By Ed Koch
The title of this film, Overlord, was the name given to the Allies drive to open a second front in World War II against the Germans. This was, of course, the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy. The film, a fictionalized depiction of the drafting of a young Englishman of about 20, who lives with his parents and a dog, is simple and totally devoid of theatrics. Throughout the film, real footage of England and the air and land war occurring at the time is woven together. Those who are veterans of WWII will recall their memories of the moment, especially those who participated in the D-Day landings.
I was in WWII, serving in the combat infantry, but I did not land in Europe until 90 days after D-Day. I did not land on the beaches and have to fight my way to higher ground. When my division, the 104th, landed, it was in the Port of Cherbourg which had been taken by the Allies earlier on. The scenes of combat will be of special interest to the veterans of any and all the wars in which they served from WWII to todays war in Iraq. The acting of the principal player, Brian Stirner, who plays Tom Beddows, is excellent and totally realistic beginning with basic training, including the hazing we all were subject to and the physical demands made on civilian bodies unaccustomed to the demands of a soldiers need to prepare for service on the battlefield. While this movie is excellent and well worth seeing, it does not come close to Band of Brothers, a miniseries about ten chapters in length which depicted the battles of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment landing in France and taking it through VE-Day, victory in Europe. I doubt if anything will ever surpass it in realism and genuine emotion. The story line is far larger and impacting than that of Overlord.
Overlord received superb reviews from other critics. A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, the film
deserves to join the pantheon of essential World War II combat movies.
This is an unusual and superb movie, as well as being a tour de force performed by William Macy. The story depicts the descent of a middle-aged man, Edmond Burke, into madness. The opening scene is between Edmond and his wife, played by Rebecca Pidgeon. He tells her he is leaving her. Where does he go? He walks the streets looking for sex and finds it in several establishments where he is abused, taken advantage of financially, and remains sexually frustrated. His descent into hell includes his hallucinating, losing his money, fighting in the streets, and ultimately murder.
Throughout all his trials and tribulations, Edmond thinks he is in control and, of course, he is not. The physical and sexual assaults on him are horrifying. William Macy is magnificent in his role.
David Mamet wrote the play on which the movie is based, and adapted it for the screen.
Two secondary roles, one played by Joe Mantegne, a drunk at the bar that Edmond visits, and the other a waitress played by Julia Stiles, are, while minor, wonderfully acted.