Well, my preconceptions were wrong.
First of all, for those who think that Tom Cruise is just another pretty boy (which was basically my opinion), this movie sets that mistaken notion to rest. He is nothing short of brilliant in a role that is enormously demanding--physically, mentally, artistically, and emotionally. I don't see how anybody could play that role and still be the same person. Someday in his memoirs, Tom Cruise is going to talk about being Ron Kovic as directed by Oliver Stone.
And second, Stone's treatment of the sex life of Viet Vets in wheelchairs is absolutely without sentimentality or silver lining. There are no rose petals and no soft pedaling. There was no Jane Fonda, as in Coming Home, to play an angel of love. Instead the high school girl friend understandably went her own way, and love became something you bought if you could afford it.
And third, Stone's depiction of America--and this movie really is about America, from the 1950s to the 1970s--from the pseudo-innocence of childhood war games and 4th of July parades down Main street USA to having your guts spilled in a foreign land and your brothers-in-arms being sent home in body bags--was as indelible as black ink on white parchment.... Read more ›
The first part of the film showing Kovic growing up and joining the marines is more targeted at American audiences, but once he is wounded, paralysed and a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair the appeal is universal. His gradual conversion to the aims of the “Stop the war movement” and peace activist are superbly acted by Cruise.
This is a tough, harrowing film to view, it depicts the desperate trauma I have read about suffered by Nam vets, I once saw a veteran comment “Nam made me so wild I am not safe to live amongst ordinary people”. We encounter the equivalent of that in this film, it is devastatingly honest and depicts not only the horrors of the conflict, the field hospitals, and the destruction of the souls of the men who survived.
Compelling viewing, but only if you are prepared to face the truth about war, but at the end there is some kind of hope.
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