Iraq in Fragments

Rated NR

In case you hadn’t noticed, Iraq is in fragments. Iraq in Fragments explores this by presenting three different stories from Iraq’s three contested regions. The first segment focuses on young Mohammed Haithem, an illiterate schoolboy who works as a mechanic’s assistant. Director James Langley plays an interesting game with Mohammed, setting him up as an unreliable narrator. Mohammed describes prewar Baghdad as beautiful. Then he talks about his boss, who, he says, never hits him and loves him like a son. Then we see scenes of the boss hitting the boy and calling him names. There’s no intrusion from the filmmaker, so the images are left to tell their own story. The next segment follows some Shiite radicals in the south as they chant and beat people up and do other holy things while God’s love shines upon them. Finally, there’s a very hopeful segment on the Kurdish north. Overall, the lack of editorial insertion and the snapshot nature of the segments is puzzling. The film offers no overall clue as to what’s happening in Iraq, which I guess is the idea and the reason for the title. A strange and yet compelling portrait of bits of Iraq that seems to suggest that the attempt to find the big picture misses the point that every country is merely a collection of very, very small pictures.

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