Movie Review: A Proper Service and Complex Thanks

Movie Review: A Proper Service and Complex Thanks
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Thank You For Your Service is unlike any war drama you’ve seen before. It has intense action, gripping drama and a true story of brave soldiers. And it’s unique because the fight isn’t overseas – it’s against their inner selves.

While most war stories take place on the battlefield, this one takes place at home after the victory. The movie focuses on the conflict of soldiers coming home as they process their trauma and new mental illnesses with their families.

First-time director Jason Hall (writer of American Sniper) executes a brilliant vision. It’s tremendously refreshing to see Hall address the topic of veteran recovery with the dignity and intelligence it deserves. The film succeeds depicting the challenges for soldiers coming home with fascinating results.

Throughout the story, there’s one persistent question that keeps the audience both engaged and in (sometimes uncomfortable) suspense: Why is it so difficult to care for veterans in need of help? And why is the fight with themselves as civilians so much scarier?

Inspired by true events, Hall’s script centers on three American soldiers returning home from Iraq in 2007. Schumann (Miles Teller), Aieti (Beulah Koale) and Waller (Joe Cole) all face difficult problems returning from deployment. But if they don’t get the care the army promised, their own demons might take the lives they once had.

Photo: Universal Pictures

The three men show vulnerability and ruggedness. Their performances are as honest as they are vulgar. And their dominating presence and mood contribute to Service’s campaign to be the aggressively masculine film of 2017.

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Cole in particular makes his fewer scenes notably memorable, but Haley Bennett as Schumann’s wife Saskia is the true scene stealer. Bennett shows a diverse range as her husband’s condition worsens, even tapping into Samuel Beckett’s principles contrasting fear and comedy. It shows Bennett’s smarts and talent.

While there were hints of the pain of recovery in Hall’s 2014 hit American Sniper, Service focuses on this theme far more intensely. This isn’t as much a war movie as it is a recovery one. Even if the tone of the movie somber and unapologetically dark.

The juxtaposition of serenity and brutality echo the same realities of war, but the internal conflict of the soldiers’ trauma gives it a heightened humanity. It’s just as scary when the battle is person vs. self as a person vs. person.

Some scenes, while brief, are unsettling and disturbing. It can be hard to watch a number of moments, but it’s worth listening to the important message about the stigma of mental health in the professional world. Especially the armed forces, and how shallow patriotism can endanger the lives of heroes.

Hall’s debut as director is an inspiring film about the intense world of helping the bravest faction of the American workforce. His service to the soldiers who are still waiting for treatment is more than worthy of the thanks of many.

Thank You For Your Service
3 1/2 out of 4 stars

14A, 108 minutes. Biopic Drama.
Written and Directed by Jason Hall.
Starring Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Beulah Koale, Joe Cole and Amy Schumer.
Now Playing at Cineplex Winston Churchill.

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