Cert 12A Stars 2

Nothing less than the existence of god and the meaning of life are the lofty themes explored in this typically frustrating and contemplative Second World War drama by US arthouse director, Terrence Malick.

With terminal intensity August Diehl plays Franz, an Austrian farmer who in 1940 refuses to volunteer to serve in the armed forces and swear allegiance to Hitler, a decision which brings him into conflict with his community and the authorities and has fearsome consequences for his wife and three young daughters.

Malick remains defiant in refusing to engage in crowd pleasing melodrama, and his non-linear narrative, mournful soundtrack, and sparsity of dialogue is burnished by some arresting cinematography of the Alps.

This is not quite as painfully dull and self-absorbed as his recent films, Knight of Cups and Song to Song, for which he was deservedly pilloried and which failed to bother the box office.

However it’s easy to surmise what drew Malick to this tale of martyrdom in the face of an uncaring world.