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There Be Dragons

In this lugubrious drama, a writer uncovers family secrets about the Spanish Civil War

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Roland Joffé once made big important movies with big important themes (The Killing Fields, The Mission). He still does, but the genre is so dated that it hardly seems worth the effort. And when the subject matter is the Spanish Civil War, in a story that revolves around a Spaniard (Dougray Scott) writing a book about a wartime priest (Charlie Cox) up for sainthood, and in the process discovering secrets about his heroic Republican (i.e. Communist) father -- well, that's the sort of thing you don't rush to see a movie about any more. There Be Dragons has a polished elegance, with clunky dialogue that whispers its lessons and metaphors. It's a drama of moments and gestures, and Joffé wants its two secrets to keep us watching: What does the father (Wes Bentley) know about the priest, and how does the writer re-discover his father while researching his book? The story spans 70 years, yet despite copious horrors of war, it all feels like a construction, not a glimpse of history, the human heart, or the struggle to find God. The only thing missing is Isabella Rossellini (although Geraldine Chaplin drops by). Still, if you like this sort of handsome, lugubrious, exquisitely photographed sort of movie, then go to town. In English, with Spanish accents. Starts Fri., May 6. Rave Cinemas (former Showcase North), North Hills

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