Clement Cogutore's Neither Heaven Nor Earth is an utterly unique exploration of the deep-seeded casualties of war, being metaphysical evocation of the strain and pain of human conflict that is always interesting regardless of the film's struggles with delivering a cohesive vision. The film is centered around a French captain Antares Bonassieu, who is in charge of himself and 12 NATO patrolling an area of Afghanistan in search of Taliban forces. On high alert, the soldiers live in a constant state of tension, with uneasy relationships among local villagers and the continually threat of the Taliban forces breathing down on them at every turn. When two of Antarès men disappear in the middle of the night, Antarès makes it his mission to find the men, though as his efforts grow more futile, both Antarès and his soldiers grow increasingly fearful as their fears begin to consume their psyches. Neither Heaven Nor Earth is a film about mood and atmosphere, delivering a story that captures the utter isolation felt by soldiers in conflict. The uncertainty, isolation, and utter lack of control of being in a foreign setting is felt in every frame, as Antares, the captain, finds himself faced with the responsibility and tough decisions once his men begin to go missing. This burden and pressure felt by Antarès begins to consume him, as Neither Heaven More Earth captures how this responsibility becomes a deep-seeded burden, with Antarès psychologically effected by his inability to protect his own men. The disappearance of these men take on a supernatural quality in Neither Heaven Nor Earth, as the filmmakers use their disappearances to symbolically capture the lack of control soldiers truly have in a war situation, where all the training and preperation falls victim to primal emotions such as fear and regret. The film simply captures how quickly man can unravel in times of chaos, with Antarès struggling more and more to comprehend all the forces around him. Clement Cogitore's Neither Heaven Nor Earth does struggle with its characterizations early on, not giving the viewer enough depth to hold on to, but by the end it becomes apparent that this filmmaker is much more interested in presenting a more opaque, metaphysical evocation of the chaos, fear, and regret of human conflict, one that can be a little evasive at times but always an interesting cinematic experience.
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