In Country (1989)

This film relates quite a noble question to it's audience: How can one generation fully comprehend the generation preceding it, especially in the face of recent wars like Vietnam?

Every other movied I've seen of Norman Jewison's have been very well executed. I was surprised when this one didn't have the fire the others did. For one, the Vietnam scenes looked like they were shot in Alabama or So. Carolina; the VC fireworks weren't at all believable either. As many of these scenes could be imagined by an 18-yr-old girl, it could just be her weak rendering of the war. I found the story had a hard time getting underway, even though all the elements of the story seemed to be in place. It just didn't pick up - though that may have been a parallel to the protagonist's life. All in all though, this isn't Jewison's best film, but it wasn't too bad.

The setting is in a southern state during summer holidays. Samantha has just graduated and lives with her Vietnam vet uncle, played by a long-haired Bruce Willis. Her father was killed in the war just before she was born. Her life is directionless, yet she is the single source of vitality that her uncle and his vet friends seem to have in their lives.

The film follows Samantha's quest to understand her father and the conflict in Vietnam. She is prodding and poking and reading everything she can get her hands on to be able to sympathize with the changed men in her town.

I found the acting to be very solid. They accurately depicted a small country town, full of restlessness and chit chat. The commentary on the war was essentially weak. Only with a couple minor hints to we hear why these veterans are so scarred.

The climax of the film would move a viewer even if the viewer hadn't seen the rest of the film. Worth watching if it ever shows up on TV. I picked it up for $1.99 in a bargain bin.


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