Due to its geographical location, Latvia found itself heavily involved during World War I. What started out as border skirmishes and even limited success pushing into the west as part of the Russian Units, soon turned into occupation at the hands of the Germans. Between 1915 and 1917 the volunteer Latvian Riflemen fought against the Prussians, swapping allegiances to the Bolsheviks before the October Revolution. The Rifleman follows a young soldier through this period.
After the Germans kill his mother and take away their home, 16-year-old Artūrs (Oto Brantevics) signs up to fight in the national battalion along with his brother (Raimonds Celms) and his overage father (Martins Vilsons). Whilst initially the excitement of training overwhelms him, he is soon acquainted with the harsh realities of war. Conversely, his father, a decorated marksman, is at home in the cold and the snow.
The first thing you’ll notice about The Rifleman is just how good it looks. The cinematography is superb and it has the look and feel of a Hollywood blockbuster. Dzintars Dreibergs’ film feels epic in scope and ambition. Something which lets a lot of war films down. The story itself is interesting without really having a strong enough narrative arc to be compelling. However, there’s impressive acting all round and enough to make The Rifleman one of the best war films of the last few years.
The Rifleman will screen in Showcase Cinemas on 26 July and available on Digital on 10 August and DVD on 24 August.