I'd never even heard of Guns at Batasi before but I was amazed to find that it's a superlative film. I was expecting standard British stiff-upper-lip fare that the British did so well in the 1950s and '60s, but what I wasn't expecting is that a film I'd never even heard of rivals and even exceeds top-notch British dramas like Sidney Lumet's 'The Hill'.
The film stands squarely on Richard Attenborough's pitch-perfect performance as a Regimental Sergeant Major - the performance of a lifetime, especially when you consider that Attenborough is the complete opposite of the character he plays in this film - in reality he's soft-spoken and unassuming, yet the character he's playing is not at all those things. To say that this role was a stretch somehow doesn't do the performance justice - Attenborough literally becomes the RSM, and every moment he's on screen is incredible. Some reviewers assume that his performance is over-the-top, but I can assure everyone that British NCOs do act like this - or at least they did in the 1960s - I had the honour of knowing one of them.
Not that Attenborough is doing it all alone - the other performances are perfect too, as is the direction. The fact that the film was made in a studio in England makes you realise what a great job a truly great crew can do for a film - there's no way you'd think this movie wasn't made in Africa.
Altogether a fantastic movie - probably the best new film (new to me anyway) I've seen in the last two years. This blows everything else out of the water.
Oh, and for those worried that it's a war film - definitely not. It's a drama set in a military barracks, but psychological drama is what we have here, and unlike a lot of those kinds of films this one has a heart and a sense of humour. Don't miss this one!