World Trade Center Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone’s idea of subtlety usually involves slapping you across the face with a wet fish. Which is why it’s so shocking that a man with a deserved rep for being an irresponsible provocateur took a script by a first-time screenwriter and made such a powerfully affecting movie about an event that has been politicised to death from every conceivable ideological end. By applying his talents to a very focused, straightforward narrative, which at its core runs the risk of being a coalmining disaster TV movie of the week, Stone becomes the great filmmaker he always hinted he could be. And thank god, considering how horribly wrong this film could have gone. World Trade Center is the story of two Port Authority Police officers trapped underneath the twin towers’ collapse. Five years later, it’s easy to forget the personal stories of determination, faith and camaraderie from that day, as opposed to the disaster porn that we’ve been subjected to on an endless loop for the last five years. Like United 93, WTC successfully conveys the disbelief of the day as it happened in real time, and it also uses some non-actors culled from real life rescue crews and Port Authority officers. Stone went to excruciating lengths to get every small detail right, and on a separate commentary track, three of the men portrayed testify that the film is 95-percent accurate. The film loses some of its impact on the small screen, though the tension translates. The cinematography and special effects are elegant and tasteful; it also marks the debut of a new lens that draws mountains of emotion from simple close-ups of the paralysed men, including a remarkably restrained Nicolas Cage. The film certainly has its sentimental moments where cynics could cry cliché, but this is one of those rare films whose emotional honesty rings true in nearly every scene, no matter how corny. Listening to the real men on the commentary is inspiring and as emotionally draining as the film itself. They came through this alive because of their belief in each other and their families, and the film stands as a testament to their heroism and selflessness. In his commentary, Stone confesses that he finally made a love story, just like his mother always wanted him to. Who knew Hollywood could actually get it right? (Paramount)