THE ACT OF KILLING: THE REVIEW

THE ACT OF KILLING looked way too morbid for me, not something I could stomach, if I see children hurt on film, I am nearly out of the cinemas immediately, I just cannot stomach it. But who better to send to this one but Salty Kernel, Adam Shearsby, who appears to be gaining a theme to his reviews, mostly serial killers :). I am getting a wee bit scared of Mr Shearsby. This film is horrendous and will be hard for most people to watch, that being said, it is winning every festival it enters (nearly) and is being raved about the world over by many critics. I, personally, will never watch it but Adam respected it a lot, see his review below. THE ACT OF KILLING is on a strictly limited season at DENDY NEWTOWN ONLY from this coming Thursday 3rd October. It is rated MA15+ (Strong themes) and it appears they are running the extended version which runs for 159 mins.

 

Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joram ten Brink, Anne Köhncke, Michael Uwemedimo, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, The Act of Killing, The Act of Killing Review, Adam Shearsby
THE ACT OF KILLING – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

In 1965, the Indonesian Government was overthrown by a military coup. During this time, Anwar Congo was promoted from a small time gangster, selling black market movie tickets, to the leader of a death squad. This death squad helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, intellectuals and ethnic Chinese in less than a year; with Anwar himself killing around 1000 people.

The Act of Killing, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (also released as “Depression: The Movie” and “Uncomfortable Viewing”) revolves around Anwar describing the atrocities he committed with his friends. They then reenact them in the style of their favourite movie genres; gangster, musical and westerns.

 

 

Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joram ten Brink, Anne Köhncke, Michael Uwemedimo, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, The Act of Killing, The Act of Killing Review, Adam Shearsby
THE ACT OF KILLING – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

This film was extremely difficult to watch. It’s also hard to say that I watched it, it was more like I was subjected to viewing it. It was not graphically violent; but it was brutally honest and graphic in the description of the killings. Anwar and his friends begin describing the killings as if they were bragging. At first they beat people to death, but then found it was too bloody and they didn’t want to have to clean it up. Anwar then discovered strangulation by wire was the most efficient, quick and cleanest way to do it. As a result, most of the people Anwar killed was via strangulation.

It is unflinching in the way it describes the killings, and one in particular stands out. Anwar is reminiscing with his friend and past executioner Adi Zulkadry. Adi had a girlfriend back in 1965, her father was Chinese. As Adi was tasked with exterminating all communists, Chinese and intellectuals, he had to kill his girlfriend’s father; naturally by repeatedly smashing his face in with a brick. What’s even more disturbing is the way he describes what he did to Anwar, with such delight and pride.

 

 

Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joram ten Brink, Anne Köhncke, Michael Uwemedimo, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, The Act of Killing, The Act of Killing Review, Adam Shearsby
THE ACT OF KILLING – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

You can’t help but feel disgusted, but they have still not faced any punishment for their warcrimes. What they did was sanctioned by the government; and they are still revered as heroes. They way that Oppenheimer juxtaposes their descriptions of the killings to shots of the executioners going about their mundane daily tasks or spending time with their families is truly brilliant.

The acting is worthy of an Academy Award. But it isn’t acting, it’s a deep and raw look into one mans emotions; as he slowly transitions from pride to his own sobering reflection on what he did. This film is alone worth it to watch Anwar’s transformation. The Act of Killing really shines in the tiny moments where you can begin to see him accidentally second guess himself and negatively reflect with his former colleagues. The conclusion, which I wont go into, is indescribable. It just simply has to be seen.

 

 

Signe Byrge Sørensen, Joram ten Brink, Anne Köhncke, Michael Uwemedimo, Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, The Act of Killing,  The Act of Killing Review, Adam Shearsby
THE ACT OF KILLING – THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW

 

The Act of Killing is unentertaining, confronting and uncomfortable. That being said, it was exactly the directors intention and it has deservingly resulted in a top notch documentary. You need to want to watch it, and if you do, you will not be disappointed. Well, you will be; but not in the film – in humanity.

 

4 and a Half Pops