War is hell and suffused with fog but what about ghosts? Clément Cogitore’s Neither Heaven Nor Earth is a spooky supernatural combat thriller about a company of French soldiers stationed in a mountain pass in Afghanistan in 2014. The plot turns when for no apparent reason two soldiers disappear in the middle of the night while on guard duty. The captain (Jérémie Renier, whose performance anchors the film) appeals to rationality. Then another soldier disappears—in broad daylight. At this point voodoo about sacred grounds and holy spirits starts sounding appealing. Soon enough it becomes clear that the disappearances are a metaphor for the futility of the War on Terror, a war in which Western forces unsuccessfully impose themselves on an obdurate area and vanish for no good reason. The movie shines in a mesmeric scene in which a soldier, with a pair of Gatsby eyes tattooed onto his back, has a sort of religious experience while listening to electro music. Otherwise, by turns opaquely dull and hauntingly mysterious, Neither Heaven Nor Earth is as jagged as the craggy terrain of its setting.
In French & Persian.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White