Review by Sean Boelman
The Dutch film Do Not Hesitate takes a very simple premise and makes a compelling character study out of it, but in a way that will still keep viewers on the edge of their seat. Asking complicated questions with even more complex answers, it’s a challenging movie in all the best ways.
The film follows three young soldiers who find themselves stuck with a young boy after their convoy is separated from them and they accidentally kill his goat. It’s a set-up that straddles the line between believable and absurd, with a MacGuffin that is ridiculous but an aftermath that feels realistic.
It’s a slow burn of a movie that is heavily dependent on the way in which it builds atmosphere. After the initial stakes are set, the film is basically a ticking time bomb, the audience left waiting for the situation to go from bad to worse. The payoff in the final act isn’t as strong as one would hope, but those first two thirds are
Of course, the central theme of this movie is the ethics of warfare. It’s a topic that is extremely nuanced and difficult to tackle, and yet writer Jolein Laarman does a great job of exploring the subtleties of the situation. The film presents a very stark reality when it comes to discussing war, and it can sometimes be hard to stomach.
The character development in the movie is admittedly somewhat lackluster, as more of a focus is put on the ideas in the film. It’s a movie about archetypes, and while there are definitely arcs to be found within the script, they are conventional and predictable, as they are largely in service of the message of the story.
Young actor Omar Alwan is absolutely the highlight of the cast. He really captures his character perfectly and serves as a wonderful foil to the three performers who are playing the soldiers: Spencer Bogaert, Joes Brauers, and Tobias Kersloot. They are also all good, but Alwan frequently steals the scene from them.
Without a doubt, one of the best things about this film is its style. It’s frequently a gorgeous movie to look at even though the things it is depicting are anything but. However, this seems like an added commentary to the hypocrisy of war and how it leaves such a path of destruction in the wake of everything it touches.
Do Not Hesitate is a really effective commentary on war, and even though it loses some momentum in the final act, it’s consistently thought-provoking. We have seen similar films before, even perhaps better ones, but this is still very solid.
Do Not Hesitate is currently seeking distribution.