Ambush | Chicago Reader

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This handsomely mounted antiwar saga from Finland (1999) is so classical in form and visually meticulous that it suggests a David Lean epic. But its story, loosely based on novels by Antti Tuuri, is more modest in scope: a young and conscientious lieutenant fighting in the Russo-Finnish War in 1942 is sustained through the cruelties of battle by love for his fiancee, an army nurse. This is less violent than recent Hollywood movies that have revisited World War II (the soldier's detachment ventures behind enemy lines on bicycles), but director Olli Saarela cranks up the suspense before each bloody skirmish. Unfortunately his languid pacing undercuts the urgency of the lovers' climactic and ambiguous reunion. Tuuri collaborated with Saarela on the script.

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