Neither Heaven nor Earth (Ni le ciel ni la terre). 2015. France/Belgium. Directed by Clément Cogitore. In French and Persian; English subtitles. 100 min.
The ingenious conceit of Neither Heaven nor Earth, a critical success at Cannes (previously titled The Wakhan Front), is to transform the Afghan battlefield—dust and boredom and jolts of explosive violence—into the backdrop for a metaphysical thriller. Jérémie Renier stars as a French army commander who begins to lose the loyalty of his company, as well as his sanity, when soldiers start mysteriously disappearing one by one. Rarely is the madness of war conveyed on screen with such simmering tension and existential fear. Rarely, too, is the ignorance and mistrust between cultures—are the shepherd villagers innocent civilians or Taliban spies?—limned with such poetic insight. A Film Movement release.