Overall, “A Message from Fallujah” aims to secure Iraq’s place as the living hell of the modern American psyche. In its best moments, this short reminds us that we have created our own torment by begetting this country’s situation.
The film concerns an American (veteran actor Lance Henriksen) who’s ready to depart post-invasion Iraq after helping to “rebuild” it. With his flight an hour away, he’s torn from a café table and hooded before his face has time to react. He soon becomes a televised political hostage, bloodied and kneeling in front of a row of masked Fundamentalist militants. Australian director Richard Gibson creates an impressive visual style as Daniel Crane enters his nightmarish captivity from the sun-bleached streets of Fallujah. The stream-of-consciousness script, which recalls a famous American war story (to reveal it would spoil the plot), overuses an “is this a dream?” feeling. It also relies too much on whimsy, complete with a little boy as a “ray of hope.” But the visual design and the realization of these 15 minutes make for a jolting, timely reminder of what the Bush administration has started overseas, and how it has only brought us closer to our enemies.