Regeneration | Chicago Reader


During World War I an officer and poet (James Wilby) who has no psychiatric or medical problems is sent to a military hospital for declaring his opposition to the war. Another high-ranking patient (Jonny Lee Miller) assigned to the same compassionate psychiatrist (Jonathan Pryce) seems unwilling to regain his power of speech or his memory of the events that traumatized him. But a treatment pioneered by a colleague challenges the psychiatrist's faith in his own gentler, though slower and statistically less effective, methods for treating shell shock. This adaptation of Pat Barker's novel is a contemplative exposition of the horrors and hypocrisies associated with war and the notion that ends justify means. Distinctive and potently oppressive in tone, the quiet, almost nondramatic story identifies damning ironies—if the men successfully complete treatment they're considered fit to endure again the experiences that landed them in the hospital. But while its ideas are thought provoking, the movie is ultimately preaching to the choir. Gillies MacKinnon directed a screenplay by Allan Scott.

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