'It has to matter, it has to make a difference,' insists human rights worker Carole (Bérénice Bejo) in The Search, and her phrasing typifies the tone of Michel Hazanavicius's drama about the Second Chechen War in 1999.
The French director's follow-up to his Oscar-winning silent movie comedy, The Artist, is everything The Artist was not: long, unoriginal and heavy-handed.
The Search, which takes its title and part of its plot from Hollywood director Fred Zinnemann's 1948 post-Holocaust drama, follows two storylines. One is about the Full Metal Jacket-style progressive dehumanization of a young Russian soldier named Kolia (Maxim Emelianov) on the front.
The second is about the bond that develops between European Union official Carole and a nine-year-old Chechen orphan boy, Hadji (Abdul Khalim Mamatsuiev).
With dialogue in Chechen, French, Russian and English, there are stilted scenes in which Carole and the local Red Cross director, Helen (Annette Bening), decry the world's indifference to the humanitarian catastrophe.