Monday, February 10, 2020

Last Flag Flying: Angry...Sad...Hilarious, Yet Moving -- Well Done!

Movie Review: Last Flag Flying (2017)
Version: Amazon Prime

An at times angry, at times sad, often hilarious yet moving script, with superb acting, and a compelling story make Last Flag Flying a must-see evening watch. Watch out for the adult language, however.

This is the story of a Vietnam veteran asking his distant war buddies to accompany him to receive the return of his son's dead body from service in the Iraq War. Along the way they recount their life journeys since parting after their own war struggles and come to terms with the realities of war today as they discover the son's demise in Iraq isn't what they were first told.

I can't imagine a finer ensemble cast for this film. Steve Carell plays Larry "Doc" Shepherd, the distraught father. Bryan Cranston plays Sal Nealon, the off-his-rocker and say-it-straight foul-mouthed bar owner with too many demons to live a constrained life. And Laurence Fishburne plays Reverend Richard Mueller, the saved-by-Christ hellbender who keeps everything real. Rounding out the cast are J. Quinton Johnson as Washington, the son's best friend who accompanies the body home, and Yul Vazquez as Colonel Willits, who serves as the foil for everyone's anger. Together, they explore every possible emotion dredged up from both the Vietnam and Iraq wars, the injustices of war, the idiocies of chance, and the sorrows of life.

This film took us through the complete range of emotional experiences. It starts out slow and somber and quiet, but throughout it escalates through periods of piqued anger and raucous humor and teary-eyed sadness, even irritation and desperation. But having gone through these peaks and valleys, you will have enjoyed the experience because it will have been a journey taken with these characters, experienced with them, through their eyes, the more real because the actors brought them to life. Watch for an exceptionally poignant scene, a turning point, with actress Cicely Tyson, that makes you catch your breath it is so well played out. Won't spoil it here.

I didn't care for the lighting or the cinematography. It looked cheaply done. But this is totally a character-driven film. They spent their budget on the script and the acting. And it shows. Well done.

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