“22 July”: Finding the Way Forward After the Horror

22 July (a Netflix original film) is Paul Greengrass measured response to how a democracy reacts and corrects itself when a terrorist attack strikes at both its head and its youngest and brightest potential leaders.

There is the political response— the acknowledgement, the recriminations, the commission investigations, the inevitable failures but also the brave course corrections. That is the grownup way.

The other half of the Norway 2011 terror attack struck at its youth, its idealism, its future and vision of themselves as an accommodating society. The contrast between the remorseless killer Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) chillingly portraying his murderous logic and xenophobia in court with the rehabilitation of one of his surviving victims, Viljars (Jonas Strand Gravli) as he struggles towards wholeness, meaning and the inevitable showdown forms the conflict and plot for the balance of 22 July.

Greengrass approach is documentary like, emphasizing balance at the expense of inner examination. It comes woefully close to over emphasizing Breivik’s viewpoint, until the last 30 minutes puts him in his place. Youth and witness will always eventually win out in the Greengrass courtroom.

The ending is a bit polemic but also cathartic. It is the appropriate finish for a national tragedy and reconciliation told in the minute details between perpetrator and victim.

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