Lions for Lambs
Directed by Robert Redford

Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan

Starring Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise


Lions for Lambs

What is it about liberals that makes them shoot themselves in the foot? They pose all the questions about taking part, about putting yourself on the line, about giving back to the country by standing up for what you feel - in this case, let us not pussyfoot around it - about the disastrous policies of George W. Bush and his administration when it comes to war with Iraq (not a threat), war with Afghanistan (we're losing) - potential war with Iran (we're gonna bomb).

All of which are touched on by director Robert Redford, working from a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan that sounds like it was put together from an old Democratic Party platform, and we know how influential they were. One part is a lecture by Redford, in the persona of Professor Stephen Mallory, who teaches political science, to a lazy student about taking part in the life of the nation. The second part is an interview with Tom Cruise as Senator Jasper Irving, Republican of Illinois, giving TV reporter Meryl Streep a public relations scoop because she once wrote something good about him - the scoop being that we're going to send small units to the big mountains in Afghanistan in order to win the war there. That is, as opposed to large units. Is that an idea or what? The third part follows two students in Mallory's class - a black and a Latino who oppose the war but volunteer to go into the army and be sent to Afghanistan, where - oh, forget it. No, let's not forget it; they die.

The only thing that's missing here is Redford lecturing us on being good stewards of the environment and fighting global warming, and if the film had more time I'm sure he would have gotten around to it. Oh, and I forgot - yes to evolution and no to intelligent design. I say all this more in sorrow than in anger, because I share every position he takes; but preaching to the choir, and there apparently will be very few of them, isn't going to change anything. If Michael Moore, with "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Sicko" can't change America, I'm afraid it's all over for the rest of us.

Which raises an interesting point: "Lions for Lambs" means to wake us up to an administration that's responsible for all those wars, and Redford's lecture to his student, the bright one, the one who wants to take advantage of all those perks that come to wealthy white people, ends up falling on deaf ears. Senator Tom Cruise's interview with Meryl Streep also ends up being an argument by a Bush conservative against the liberal side, with each making points. But then Streep goes back to her version of CNN where, in spite of her principles she gives the story the play Cruise wants from her. He knew her better than she did. Is there hope for the left? I doubt it.