Waltzing With Bashir

Sony Pictures Classics

Review in a Hurry: In an attempt to unlock repressed memories of his time in the Israeli military, filmmaker Ari Folman interviewed others who served at the same time and used their stories and his own to create a stunning animated docudrama.

The Bigger Picture: Cast away all prior stereotypes you may be holding about foreign-language documentaries, as this kinetic cartoon injects some vital cinematic adrenaline into what might otherwise be a dryly narrated history lesson. Propelled forward by a hard-rocking soundtrack that often substitutes the original lyrics with frightening militaristic sentiments, Folman's recollections are brought to life with both gritty realism and haunting nightmare imagery, all via 3-D cel-shading that at times looks rotoscoped, though it actually isn't.

Battles in Lebanon, dreams of wild dogs and giant women and ultimately an infamous 1982 massacre that Folman may or may not have been part of...this ain't your daddy's Israeli documentary, and it sure as hell isn't a cartoon for kids. The animated form helps to bypass the viewer's inherent defenses, so that at the end, when the movie sucker punches you with actual massacre footage, you can feel the wind sucked out of the auditorium.

If you're not familiar with the details behind the historical events, however, be forewarned that the movie doesn't spoon-feed you all the details. So if you're wondering where exactly Lebanese Christian Phalangists fit into the struggle between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, it might help to read up a little bit first.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The subject matter will be too harsh for some, especially in light of recent world events reopening many of the same wounds. Those with strong personal stakes in the struggle may also find the movie insufficiently "fair and balanced."

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