J'accuse! ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I'm surprised to read that Gance intended this to be an anti-war piece - the startling sequence near film's end where dead soldiers come back to life to chastise their loved ones for being undeserving of the ultimate sacrifice made on their behalf speaks to the frustrations of the warrior, not the peacenik. Likewise, Diaz's conversion from pacifist to soldier is so fervent that I find it hard to read it as being critical, even if it's clear that the character has gone mad. It's all so unexpected and jaw-droppingly perverse that the material's essence skips right past my anti-military, peace-loving filters and makes me embrace the film in spite of itself.

And a good thing too - while handsomely mounted, the film spends most of its time on a melodramatic love triangle that offers little other than some unexpected male bonding between rivals based on the only thing they have in common, their love of the same woman. 'Just kiss him!", I yelled at the television screen at one point, and the leads complied. Ah, the French.