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Stars: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Jodhi May

Director: Edward Zwick

Although reminiscent of one of those Europudding films of the 1960s and 1970s, with such titles as Partizan, this gains added poignancy by being based on a remarkable true story. In 1941, Byelorussian Jews, at first just a few, fled into the country's vast forests.

The initiators are brothers, Tuvia (Craig), Zus (Schreiber) and Ashael (Bell) although, as the forest community swells, Zus and Tuvia become increasingly at odds, with Zus finally storming off to join the Russian army. Back at the camp, life is a constant battle for food, despite wooden dwellings making the place more of a settlement.

Unwell, Tuvia finds his authority questioned, but is nursed back to health by the woman (Davalos) who becomes his 'forest wife'. Zus now helps out by raiding a German post for medical supplies and an embryo epidemic is nipped in the bud, but worse is to follow: the community is bombed and the settlement finds itself on the run.

There are some good action scenes and affecting moments here, but the movie is very long and its script, inclined to well-worn exhanges, does not keep the interest bubbling in between shoot-outs and cross-camp clashes, whose interaction borders on the movie conventional. It's an opportunity only half-grasped.

Alan Frank

USA/UK/Lithuania 2008. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
137 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 03 Jan 2009