Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Critical Consensus: War Doc "Hell and Back Again" Is The Pick of the Week

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire October 5, 2011 at 5:34AM

Coming off an acclaimed run on the festival circuit, Danfung Dennis's war doc "Hell and Back Again" is hitting theaters today via Docurama Films, and it's the pick of the week, according to the folks polled on criticWIRE.
0

Coming off an acclaimed run on the festival circuit, Danfung Dennis's war doc "Hell and Back Again" is hitting theaters today via Docurama Films, and it's the pick of the week, according to the folks polled on criticWIRE.

One of the most acclaimed docs to come out of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival (and winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography in its world doc competition), Danfung Dennis' directorial debut chronicles the life of an injured Marine returning home from Afghanistan to his wife and everyday life. Six critics gave it an average of A- on the film's criticWIRE page. indieWIRE's own Eric Kohn gave the film a A-, calling it the "year's best war film" his review:

There have been plenty of combat documentaries over the last 10 years, but photojournalist Danfung Dennis' "Hell and Back Again" adopts an original conceit. Dennis follows Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris, a gruff 25-year-old who was stationed in Afghanistan, during two seminal moments in his life. During an assault on a Taliban stronghold, Harris received a bullet wound in his rear that prematurely sent him home. Back in North Carolina with his wife, temporarily unable to walk and unsure of his military future, Harris drifts through his mundane life dealing with echoes of the past. Rather than letting his subject attempt to explain the trauma, Dennis shows it, repeatedly cutting between the two periods. The events speak for themselves.

"Hell" topped a busy slate of films opening this weekend, including George Clooney's political drama "The Ides of March," Abe Sylvia's teen comedy "Dirty Girl," Martin Sheen's "The Way" and Tom Six's anticipated (though that depends on who you ask) sequel "Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence." More extensive takes on the films opening this weekend are all are linked below. Also offered is the top 10 criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by doc "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu" for the third week running, Note that only films with three or more grades have their averages included.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in, and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

Hell and Back Again (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

The Swell Season (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Ides of March (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Way (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Dirty Girl (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C

Blackthorn (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD

Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD

Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD

The Women on the 6th Floorr (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBD


criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Senna (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

3. We Were Here (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

4. The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

5. Drive (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

6. Weekend (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

7. Take Shelter (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

8. 50/50 (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

9. Moneyball (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

10. Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

This article is related to: In Theaters