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... And Justice for None

Political thriller Storm investigates Bosnia's war scars

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The tempest at the center of Storm has nothing to do with a thunder- and lightning-packed downpour. It's a political thriller about a Dutch attorney who stumbles on a new batch of war crimes while building evidence against a Serbian army general who may be responsible for ethnic cleansing in Sarajevo.

At the center of this storm is lawyer Hannah Maynard (Kerry Fox), determined to bring the army commander to justice, especially after her chief witness kills himself — but not before the witness lies in court, effectively damaging whatever case Hannah and her prosecuting team had made against the general (who has been in prison three years awaiting trial).

It doesn't help matters that Hannah was hoping to head the prosecutor's office, a job that instead went to the man who's now her boss (and who's more than eager to pass on the flimsy case to her). Starting from basically scratch, Hannah begins to uncover new details. For starters, her key witness was telling the truth about the horrors in Bosnia; he just didn't see them himself. His sister Mira (Anamaria Marinca), however, suffered them firsthand. Not so surprisingly, she doesn't want to talk about her past. Some thuggish Serbians don't want her to talk either.

Director Hans-Christian Schmid steers his smart, probing drama into a mystery for much of the film, as Hannah peels away parts of her witnesses' lives, uncovering new layers of terror. Schmid slowly ratchets up the danger as Hannah burrows deeper and deeper: She dodges a rock thrown through her car window; Mira's son disappears from school. Both incidents are not-so-subtle, menacing messages to the women to stop meddling. Plus, Hannah's boss and the court just want to reach a settlement and put the whole thing behind them. So much for justice.

Fox is solid as the strong-minded and dogged Hannah. "I'm not interested in politics," she says. "My responsibility is to uphold the applicable law." Storm starts as a courtroom drama, but as her investigation uncovers the secrets behind a bus, a hotel and Serbian officials, it develops into much more. There are no fancy camera moves, stylish visuals or brash mood-setting music -— Schmid builds the dread naturally, and the results are way more suspenseful than most Hollywood thrillers. Along the way, he reveals the battle scars from a war that ultimately amounted to genocide.

mgallucci@clevescene.com

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