An eloquent war movie that takes place far from the battlefields, “Thank You for Your Service” follows a group of young soldiers returning from Iraq to lives forever changed. Rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.
An eloquent war movie that takes place far from the battlefields, “Thank You for Your Service” follows a group of young soldiers returning from Iraq to lives forever changed. Adam (Miles Teller) comes home to a family accustomed to spending their days without him, unable to imagine what hell he’s seen. Will (Joe Cole) arrives to an empty apartment; his girlfriend, tired of waiting, took everything except the tired stars glittering on the walls. Solo (Beulah Koale), haunted by visions of a fellow soldier he couldn’t save, faces the reality of memory loss after a traumatic brain injury. And Michael (Scott Haze), hit by a sniper’s bullet, begins a long and painful journey toward recovery.
Jason Hall (“American Sniper”) lets the story — which is based on an acclaimed nonfiction book by journalist David Finkel — unfold slowly, showing instead of telling what these men and their families are enduring. (Adam, we notice early on, brushes his teeth rather violently; it’s not until later in the movie that we understand why.) You’re struck, watching it, by how very young these people are, how Adam and his wife Saskia (Haley Bennett) look like teenagers as they dance together at a bar, trying to recreate a more carefree time. And yet, they seem so terribly old, particularly Solo, who half-jokes that he’ll name his expected child after himself, “so I don’t forget his name,” and who spends much of the film looking utterly, hopelessly lost.
“Thank You for Your Service” is a harrowing, honest and beautifully acted film about lives blown to bits and then put back together; not entirely, not immediately, but piece by tiny piece. (Its biggest surprise: a subtle, heartbreaking performance by an unrecognizable Amy Schumer, as a young military widow desperate for answers.) The film puts its viewers through a wringer and through a journey, right up to its final glimpse of a soldier, though long returned, finally beginning to come home.
Movie Review ★★★½
‘Thank You for Your Service,’ with Miles Teller, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Beulah Koale, Scott Haze, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Brad Beyer, Omar J. Dorsey, Jayson Warner Smith. Written and directed by Jason Hall, based on the book by David Finkel. 109 minutes. Rated R for strong violent content, language throughout, some sexuality, drug material and brief nudity. Several theaters.