A Midnight Clear | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

A Midnight Clear 

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Writer-director Keith Gordon sustains rather than fulfills the interesting promise of his first feature (The Chocolate War, 1988) in another taut novel adaptation that shows the influence of Stanley Kubrick. The novel this time is by William Wharton, who also wrote the source novels for Birdy and Dad; it's a semiautobiographical account of the members of a young World War II infantry squad, stuck in a deserted French chateau during the Christmas season in 1944, who form a sort of perverse family (two of the soldiers are nicknamed "Father" and "Mother") and make uncertain contact with a small German squad that may or may not want to surrender. This fable about the futility of the war benefits not only from fine performances but an intelligent and literate offscreen narration that enhances the movie's conceptual integrity. With Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Frank Whaley, and John C. McGinley. (Water Tower, Evanston)

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