They’re looking at the narrative, just offscreen.
When I first saw the title and plot summary for Miracle at St. Anna, I thought that I was going to see a refashioned telling of the battle of Sommocolonia (which I’d just read about shortly before watching the movie). I was totally wrong. This movie was never quite what I expected it to be.
Possibly valuable, probably confusing, Miracle at St. Anna is a composite of several different stories, all mashed together in a fascinating but bewildering mix of historical fiction that feels more like very subdued historical magical realism. The narrative focus wanders back and forth, encompassing so many story lines that it never feels like it zeroes in on any one of them. Nor does it ever focus enough to mold a sense of coherence out of the disparate pieces. I like the story at its core, I think, but … I feel lost. It’s almost too nebulous to really understand, in some ways, and it certainly leaves many questions entirely unanswered. Or maybe it answers some questions, but in unsatisfying ways? It’s a bit of a mess.
But why? It seemed so promising, after all.