Colin Farrell stars as a war photojournalist Mark Walsh who bears the hidden scars of war on his return to Dublin after an assignment in Iraqi Kurdistan during Saddam Hussein’s reign. Written and directed by Danis Tanovic, Triage is a psychological war drama about Mark returning home from the 1988 Anfal Genocide against the Kurdish people. However the problem is he came back without his colleague and best friend David (Jamie Sives). Mark’s wife Elana (Paz Vega) tries to discover the truth but as she explores the mystery of David he discovers the haunted past of Mark. A man savagely traumatized by war that left him gaunt, unable to relax and uncertain about what really happened. From returning in one of the most dangerous and unforgiving locations on Earth, Mark returns from his assignment a different man and is now tormented by a mystery that only him, Elana and her grandfather Joaquín Morales (Christopher Lee) a veteran psychoanalyst can uncover.
In one of the bloodiest wars with and conditions so awful that the Kurdish doctor Dr. Talzani (Branko Djuric) had to result into mercy killings to euthanize any rebel soldiers that are far gone beyond treatment. As Mark returns home he vainly tries to hide the physical wounds but the psychological damage of post-traumatic stress can be visibly seen by his withdrawn attitude. A changed man Mark returns to his wife with nightmares emotionally disconnected and a feeling of intense distress when trying to remember what happened. When questions are asked about what happened Mark simply inability can’t remember the important aspects of what happened. Or perhaps he just doesn’t want to remember? Elana knows the only person that can empathize with Mark is her estranged grandfather, a psychoanalyst who treated the Fascists after they had committed atrocities in the Spanish Civil War.
Farrell convincingly portrays a man wrecked by grief and guilt. A man that devoted his life into being a war photojournalist is now for some reason running away from it all. As we follow Mark on this journey we begin to explore the idea that Mark is running away from the guilt. But through Mark’s futile efforts of trying to block out what happened, we begin to see a volatile state of the mind. Triage addresses the arbitrariness of war and the brutal nature of war reporting. With Mark it seemed to be his duty to take pictures of the horror this side of the world consists of. That it was his moral responsibility and duty that fuelled his ambition to get closer and closer to the front line which eventually killed him. Not physically but mentally.
This psychological war, mystery drama is a raw look into the peril of war journalism. There is nothing more powerful than a war photojournalist’s photograph that captures the entire intensity of an atmosphere, and sums up the entire war. Just like the soldiers or rebels in the front lines they are also in the firing lines of bullets, shrapnel and death. When they come home they are all scarred by psychological wounds. Danis Tanovic beautifully captures and sums up the perils of physical harm and the danger of psychological damage in Triage.