In Our Name is the story of Suzy Jackson, a gunner in the army, who is returning from Iraq and attempting to cope with life back in north east England. The closing credits of the film, written and directed by Brian Welsh, dedicate it to “the thousands of servicemen and women who have been incarcerated in British prisons after attempting to return to civilian life”.
Suzy (Joanne Froggatt) is struggling to adapt to life back at home. Her daughter, Cass, barely recognises her and refuses to speak to her at first, until she finally asks her mum if she killed anyone in Iraq. Her husband, Mark, seems mostly interested in relinquishing his enforced celibacy as quickly as possible. We soon find out that he too has recently served in Iraq.
Suzy is haunted by the image of a young Iraqi girl for whose death she feels responsible. Unable to relate to her increasingly angry and aggressive husband and unwilling to seek help from the army in case it stays on her file and ruins her chances of promotion, she only talks about the experience when she breaks down in front of a class of children during a school visit.
Living in a run-down area, Suzy feels as outside her surroundings as she did in Iraq. She becomes increasingly paranoid and exaggerates the everyday threats of her neighbourhood, turning her home into a fortress to protect her daughter from an unknown enemy. Her husband is convinced that her refusal to sleep with him is down to her having had an affair with another soldier. He has little sympathy for her paranoia and distress, telling her to simply deal with it. He clearly hasn’t done so himself, and is a picture of bottled up rage and violence, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation. Suzy later discovers photos of her husband grinning and posing with dead bodies in Iraq, showing him revelling in the violence from which she is repulsed.
This is highlighted during a disturbing scene in the back of a taxi between Mark and the Pakistani driver. Mark quizzes the driver about his views on fundamentalism, initially appearing to sympathise with the way all Muslim people are scapegoated. But he then turns on the driver when the latter attempts to give the context of the US and British occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. When Suzy and Mark awake to find their home covered in graffiti the next morning, they assume it’s the work of the taxi driver and so follow him that evening. The consequent beating, carried out first by Suzy and taken much further by Mark, is recorded on his phone. Mark gets kicks out of watching it back. There are direct parallels here with the images from Abu Ghraib.
Suzy’s final descent into paranoia is perhaps a little unrealistic. But overall, In Our Name effectively tackles both the mindset of and the difficulties facing soldiers returning from war. It is well acted and well worth watching.
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