At her best, Angelina Jolie has been an excellent actor, from her early breakthrough role in Girl, Interrupted to more developed work like her extraordinary lead in the recent Clint Eastwood film Changeling. On top of that, she has contributed impressively to a variety of humanitarian work, and back within the entertainment industry has recently started to consolidate her celebrity position to manoeuvre herself into a more controlling role as a producer and director. As one of the few female actors who can single-handedly get funding for a film and be used exclusively to market it, she has the rare opportunity to forge a career as a female actor/writer/producer/director quadruple threat – something the industry unquestionably needs more of. If she can set a standard of women being given such roles and responsibilities, then hopefully more will follow.

That said, her shift into this area has not been an easy ride, with her first film as a director not quite working despite its good intentions. Unbroken is her second stab at a worthy, respectable drama – and while still a little rough around the edges is a much more accomplished effort. Jolie is clearly still learning her craft, but more importantly than that she is getting better, and with her latest she is buoyed along by surrounding herself with some exceptional talents. The standout of those here is genius DP Roger Deakins, whose body of work is an almost ridiculous parade of the very best cinematography of the last 25 years, and who is let off the leash here by Jolie to find moments of pure visual poetry. He elevates what is otherwise a fairly safe and straightforward true-story POW film into something quite lyrical, and the cliches (true though they may be) and moments of clumsiness elsewhere do not detract from that.

UNBROKEN
Angelina Jolie has the makings of a powerful and influential filmmaker, and her improving work should be encouraged8
She needs to marry her admirably intense interests and concerns into something more coherent though5
Otherwise, this is a by-the-numbers true story of wartime inspiration and survival6
Roger Deakins is an absolute master cinematographer, and his work here is as sublime as ever9
One can't help but wonder what the Coen brothers (original writers) would have done with this5
Bechdel Test Passes
  • n/a
Bechdel Test Failures
  • There is only one named female character
7Overall Score

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