The best aspect of "Triage," an intense, brooding drama about a traumatized war photographer recovering from violent experiences in Kurdistan, stems from Colin Farrell's commitment to it.
The actor lost 40 pounds to play the character of Mark, whose memories from abroad mar his life back in Dublin. Farrell constantly appears like he's on the edge of a psychological void.
The movie, directed by Bosnian filmmaker Denis Tanovic, includes drop-dead stunning visuals of the Kurdistan landscape to match the evocative images that Mark seeks to capture.
Unfortunately, it suffers from an uneven screenplay that fails to make Mark's post-war recovery period seem credible.
Christopher Lee chews on scenery in a distracting role as the sly doctor capable of getting inside Mark's head. The only reason to keep watching during these scenes is Farrell's continuing intensity.
It's enough to sustain the movie's momentum and bring him into awards race.
Farrell at least ought to earn a nomination for giving himself over the part. He's particularly engaging during his back-and-forth chatter with Lee, whose over-the-top psychologist routine nearly fades away in the shadow of the younger actor's brute realism.
At the premiere last night, he admitted that personal experiences that helped him understand the character's mental trajectory. "There are very few things definitive in life," he said. "When I went to rehab, I had two docters. I wanted to speak with someone who had been there."
Farrell knew he was taking a risk with the material. "It wasn't an easy sell," he explained. "It's a slow-burn, contained piece."
Nevertheless, he remained utterly fascinated by Mark's obligation to the difficult practice, and spoke with a Bosnian war photographer to prepare for the performance.
For Farrell, war photographers suffer from a dark, voyeuristic addiction: "They witness people do the most atrocious things that human nature wills them to do."