Review | ‘Hearts & Bones’ explores the struggle of documenting war

Hearts and Bones | Dir: Ben Lawrence | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The Australian film Hearts and Bones was due in cinemas on 30 April, but now is being fast tracked to homes – releasing on all major digital platforms (iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Telstra, Fetch TV, Sony etc) on May 6.

This powerful film opens with veteran war photographer Daniel Fisher (Hugo Weaving) taking photographs of a confronting scene in war-torn Iran. One of the images he captures is unforgettable, as is the trauma of being on the middle of a war.

Back in Sydney, he is busy selecting photographs for an exhibition of his work when he is approached by taxi driver Sebastian Ahmed (Andrew Luri) who is a refugee from South Sudan. Sebastian’s whole family was massacred 15 years ago and he asks that Dan not exhibit photographs that he took in his village at that time.

Dan wants to remind people of the atrocities while Sebastian wants to forget the nightmare, but the men find they have many things in common. Both men have known incredible personal loss, but their lives go on, even when they wish they wouldn’t. Both men are keeping their suffering secret and both have pregnant partners.

Also, both suffer from the debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress, though Sebastian is doing more in the way of trying to treat it. Sebastian is part of a choir for survivors of war – Voices of Hope. When Sebastian encourages Dan to come along to see the choir, which doubles as a therapy group, their friendship deepens, but there is still the issue of the photograph that Sebastian does not want the world to see.

Accused of documenting human pain and misery, Dan is aware that there are many people who see his work as being exploitative. There will be tears as the audience becomes involved with the complex lives of those who have been irreparably damages by warfare.

Lezly Herbert

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