**/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B+
starring Ondrej Vetchý, Krystof Hádek, Tara Fitzgerald, Charles Dance
screenplay by Zdenek Sverák
directed by Jan Sverák
by Walter Chaw Taking its name from a song sung during the course of the film, Oscar-winner (for 1996's Best Foreign Language Film Kolya) Jan Sverák's Dark Blue World is a historical melodrama set mostly in WWII-era Britain that's notable because its elaborate battle sequences appear to have been carried off without the aid of CGI. The film is lacklustre and puzzlingly-paced--apologists would call it leisurely, I call it lugubrious--and though the story at its core is indeed compelling and rich for exploration, Sverák's instinct towards sentimentality leads to one too many shots of sad-eyed dogs, exhausted under the weight of their status as beleaguered metaphors for loyalty and friendship. The picture could only have been salvaged by Dark Blue World focusing on the macrocosm of the plight of Czech pilots for which its tale of a doomed love triangle is the microcosm. As it is, Dark Blue World plays a good deal like Gregory Nava's brooding A Time of Destiny: they mutually explore the bonds of friendship forged under war and tested by the crucible of love.