This timely, honest and compelling documentary follows the experiences of First Lieutenant Michael T. Scotti in the U.S. Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Michael took a home video camera and shot lots of footage throughout his deployment overseas from Kuwait all the way to Baghdad–a total of 300 miles. He provides you with a rare glimpse into what it was really like to be a part of the Marines. You get to watch Marines goofing around and cursing when they’re not in battle. Or lining up to go to the bathroom in the dark, a task that’s not as pleasant as one would wish it to be. Some of them hide out in a hole in the ground that’s meant for fecal matter. The food they eat doesn’t look particularly appetizing. As Michael admits, not all of them actually like one another, though. He also confesses that even though he hadn’t slept for 90 hours, he’s still got lots of energy and alertness. Director Kristian Fraga, who previously directed Anytown, USA, finds just the right balance between entertaining the audience and provoking them emotionally as well as intellectually. Wisely, he doesn’t resort to preachiness or voice-over narration with the exception of Michael’s own voice as he candidly expresses his thoughts and feelings while he films. Fraga also avoids hitting you over the head with anti-war messages or pro-war messages like the documentary Brothers at War did. Many of the images and sounds speak for themselves and leave you with a lot to ponder about.

By Avi Offer