Iraq in Fragments

Runs at Varsity, Fri., Nov. 10–Thurs., Nov. 16. Not rated. 94 minutes.

The fragments of Iraq in Fragments are of several kinds: Beyond the obvious shattering of landscape and livelihood, there is the older schism between Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds, and each receives a dedicated chapter of the film. Deftly shaped from two years of guerrilla reportage on the ground, Iraq in Fragments pulverizes continuity and filters perspective, marshaling a complex arsenal of effects in service of kaleidoscopic patterning. The form is a high-def triptych with suavely interwoven motifs. Part one, "Mohammed of Baghdad," revolves around the eye of an 11-year-old apprentice to a Baghdad car mechanic. Part two reflects on Shiite social organization, and the film culminates with the fragile pastoral, "Kurdish Spring." The damage wrought by the ruinous American occupation of Iraq has been well chronicled by documentary filmmakers—and largely ignored by documentary audiences. Whether or not Seattle director James Longley's boldly stylized reportage breaches public indifference, its enduring value is assured: When the war is long gone, this deft construction will persist in relevance, if not for what it says about the mess we once made, then as a model of canny cinematic construction. NATHAN LEE

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