EIFF 09: Isolation
Isolation had the opportunity to be a damning indictment of the lack of support members of our armed forces are given when they decide or are forced, by injury, to leave and return to the drastically different lifestyle of civvy street. The problem is the initial message, that one in seven of those who leave the army end up homeless and detached from society at some point after returning to a normal life, is lost midway when the film suddenly shifts focus on to three soldiers who had good support and stable homes but were forced to leave after suffering horrific injuries. The whole exercise is left feeling more like an extended promo for the narrator's photography than a real documentary about a serious issue.
The film follows one-time homeless vet turned photographer Stuart Griffiths as he guides us through his story of ending up homeless after leaving the army, how he came out the other side and his shock at discovering just how many of his fellow soldiers had ended up in the same dilemma. Had the filmmakers stuck with having Griffiths interviewing the homeless vets and relaying their experiences of culture shock and their inability to relate placing them in the position they have ended up in the film could have had more focus and impact, what better way to get more out of these people than have a fellow ex-squaddie who has been though the same experiences as them, drawing out their stories. But the decision midway to switch to interview two badly injured young lads seems to come from a different angle entirely. Not that it isn't one worth exploring, but given what has come before and given the relatively comfortable position they have landed in despite their injuries, it smacks more of inclusion for the shock value of their wounds than to aid the directors' point.
There is the largely unexplored problem of many soldiers' inability to adjust between the two very different lifestyles of service and civilian, even another movie showing at EIFF, The Hurt Locker, touches on this very issue, but Isolation lacks the clarity to make its case as strongly as it should.
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