Significant, if spasmodic, Oz documaker Dennis O’Rourke strays far from his Australian turf to Afghanistan in “Land Mines: A Love Story,” which balances its shocking subject with a genuinely gentle yarn. Set for a national indie release that will draw minor B.O. (mostly from helmer’s admirers), pic’s future lies with international pubcasters and fest slots. While O’Rourke’s approach is pleasing, the irony of the generic title may not be enough to make it stand out.
Roaming the land mine-plagued world armed with his open-ended docu title, helmer chances upon Habiba, a one-legged, burka-clad woman who panhandles in the Kabul streets. Getting behind the veil, helmer reveals the woman’s life, including her loving marriage to the similarly afflicted Shah. An amputee shoemaker, Shah, like his wife, acquired his injury via a land mine. Pic’s casual depiction of their life is bitingly punctuated by Russian and U.S. military archival footage that promotes use of land mines and cluster bombs. O’Rourke is occasionally manipulative, but his humanistic approach to this highly charged subject allows the natural charm of the struggling Afghani couple to shine. DV lensing and other tech credits are solid despite low budget.