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‘The Damned’ Review: In His Latest Look at America’s Margins, Roberto Minervini Travels Back to the Civil War

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Peter Debruge Chief Film Critic Set during the Civil War, a long way from the front lines, Roberto Minervini’s “The Damned” continues the Italian helmer’s career-long examination of the rifts and affinities between overlooked segments of American society.

Apart from one long, destabilizing battle with an unseen adversary, the portrayal is a relatively peaceful one, following a group of Union soldiers assigned to scout the Northwestern frontier in 1862.

While the country is divided, this assignment brings together men of different backgrounds, fostering camaraderie and mutual respect (surprisingly, the topic of slavery never comes up, though God factors into multiple conversations).

This is the first period piece from the director of such unvarnished depictions of contemporary Southern life as “Stop the Pounding Heart” and “The Other Side,” and yet the quiet, occasionally poetic film feels like a natural extension of the themes and approach of Minervini’s earlier work.

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