Rupert Grint shines in this robust WWII chamber piece about downed German and English fighter pilots scrabbling for survival.
A crew of German World War Two pilots crash their fighter in the Norwegian tundra. They scramble their way to a desolate cabin, only to receive a knock on the door from a pair of plucky Brits who're also down on their luck and hopelessly lost. And so, the stage is set for a theatrical, dialogue-heavy diatribe about man's inherent goodness even under the dark shadow of global conflict.
The film plays out exactly as expected, a robust riff on football-between-the-trenches camaraderie as the initially suspicious men look beyond their national allegiance to fight for collective survival in these harsh, snowswept climes.
Despite its fundamental unoriginality and dull single-setting, Cross of Honour (AKA Into the White) manges to bring a clutch of believable and sympathetic characters to life with dialogue that subtly evokes their much-missed life at home and their strangely skewed understanding of the motives of war.
The performances are uniformly strong, though Rupert Grint wins best in show for his charismatic and unflappable Scouse darts champ who takes great joy in rubbing his severe German compatriots up the wrong way. His accent, too, is note perfect, and the film is a far better showcase for his performing talents than any of the Harry Potter films.
As it slowly segues into its second half, the film turns from inhumanity of war parable to a bleak survival horror, as issues such as lack of food and developing disease must be dealt with. Yet, it all gets a bit mawkish with soppy 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' singsongs in the moonlight and German dancing to keep morale high.
Director Petter Næss keeps thing strictly slow-burning, and is more than open to stick in a lengthy dialogue exchange that has nothing to do with moving the plot forward. A lengthy set of intertitles which play over the end credits supply the horrific nature of war with a gentle tinge of hope for the future.
Obligatory serious acting vehicle for Rupert Grint klaxon.
Hardly pushing the boat out formally, but does what it does very well.
Grint is great, though it does peter out a little in the final reel.