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Guy X Review

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A bureaucratic error sees young soldier Rudy (Biggs) dumped on a runway in Greenland instead of the slightly more idyllic posting of Hawaii. Comic scenes of frustration at Kafkaesque military intransigence give way to outraged anger as Rudy uncovers the b

★★★★

In an era of cookie-cutter cinema, it’s rewarding to come across a film which positively relishes taking risks — especially since so many of director Saul Metzstein’s gambles pay off handsomely.

The spirit of innovation is immediately apparent in the casting: Brit smoothie Jeremy Northam unrecognisable as a grizzled military martinet; action-movie heavy Michael Ironside heartbreaking as a horribly injured grunt; while Jason Biggs — formerly famous as American Pie’s pastry-botherer — is terrific in the lead role, channelling the young Alan Arkin as he moves from bemused cynic to reluctant rebel. Even the supporting roles are given careful attention, so the familiar figures of wild-and-crazy fat guy, manic wheeler-dealer and gung-ho psycho rise above expectations. Only Natascha McElhone’s love interest feels a touch underwritten.

Hats are definitely off, however, to cinematographer François Dagenais, whose every shot hits its target, from the bleak beauty of a volcanic landscape to the nightmarish reality of a hospital ward. His and Metzstein’s work combines with Biggs’ compelling performance to pull off that most difficult of cinematic tricks, the shift from comic to tragic and, just when you think predictability is going to set in, back again.

A smart black comedy in the tradition of M*A*S*H and Catch-22, Guy X also proves emotionally involving enough to win over hearts as well as minds.