Harrison’s Flowers

Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Andie MacDowell, David Strathairn, Elias Koteas, Adrien Brody
Director: Elie Chouraqui

Photojournalists operating in war ravaged countries have been a rich source of quality filmmaking for some years now (UNDER FIRE, YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, SALVADOR) and HARRISON’S FLOWERS continues in the same vein. Its main premise – suburban housewife heads for war zone to prove that her dead husband is still alive – may stretch the elasticity of realism somewhat but it does make for a gripping two hours of thought-provoking entertainment.

Andie MacDowell stars as Sarah Lloyd whose husband Harrison (David Strathairn) is sent to Yugoslavia in 1991 to cover the civil war. When David is subsequently reported to have been killed in the town of Vukovar Sarah refuses to accept the news. She heads off to Europe and enlists the help of three of David’s photojournalist colleagues (Adrien Brody, Brendan Gleeson, Elias Koteas). Together they navigate the nightmarish battle zones where opposing factions are barely distinguishable and only the journalist’s cameras act as a life-saving deterrent against the bullets.

Amidst the constant, unflinchingly portrayed horrors of this most senseless of conflicts the importance and daring of the photojournalist is reinforced. My only quibble is the slightly false use of documentary-style talking heads to aid the narrative flow, but that does not detract from an impressive film which, for the most part, manages to keep sentiment in check.

4 out of 6 stars