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KPCW sends its most discerning moviegoers to the movies each week to let you know which films are worth going to and which are a pass. The Friday Film Review airs at 7:20 a.m., during the Noon News and in The Local View. KPCW Friday Film Reviewers are: Barb Bretz, Rick Brough, Mark Harrington and Linda Jager.

Friday Film Review | 'Civil War'

In the newly released film, “Civil War,” a team of journalists hopes to reach Washington D.C. to interview the President before rebel forces invade the city. Is it a dystopian future America or a possible hellish reality? You decide.

I’d seen the trailer for “Civil War” and wrote it off as another violent, action-packed film I didn’t care to experience. After seeing the director and cast interviewed on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, I changed my mind. [See the segment here]

Written and directed by Alex Garland, a Brit, the film begins and ends with intentional vagueness. It’s viewed through the eyes of the journalists. We never learn all the specifics but here’s what we observe. The sitting President has abolished the FBI and begun an unconstitutional third term. Journalists compare him to dictators like Gaddafi and Mussolini.

Nineteen states have succeeded from the union. Rebels are being led by the disorganized Florida Alliance and the impressively organized Western Forces headed by Texas and California. It isn’t clear if there are pockets of violence all over the country. The zone of action we observe is a stretch of east coast from New York City to Washington D.C.

Nick Offerman plays the President, whom he says is not based on any past, present or future individual.

Kirsten Dunst stars as a veteran war photographer on assignment, traveling through the war zone with two long-time colleagues and a young wannabe. They hope to keep an interview appointment with the President in the Oval Office before it’s overrun.

As they come upon various actions along the way, we are often unclear as to which side the soldiers are on. Regardless, brutal violence and inhumane treatment is perpetrated by both sides. It is extremely disturbing.

Dunst, says this is the most powerful film she’s ever been a part of. She considers it a warning. “At the heart of all of this,” she says, “it's really about humanity and what happens when people stop treating each other like human beings.”

The director and cast say the film illustrates the possible product of our continued polarization and division. They hope audiences bring their own interpretation to the narrative and it will be a discussion starter. Anyone who values democracy and the rule of law should find the actions of both sides questionable. Our goal, as Americans, should be to start a dialogue and stop the division by finding common ground. The long-held belief that something like this can’t happen in America is a myth. It can.

“Civil War” is rated R and runs 1 hour and 49 unsettling and alarming minutes.

Friday Film Reviewer & Monthly Book Reviewer