As a psychiatrist, I have a strong interest in films involving mental illness. If you want to learn about PTSD in war veterans, you will find this movie informative and emotionally-compelling. The film is based on the non-fiction book of the same title by David Finkel. It’s about five Iraqi war veterans – four of whom return home, while one has died in Iraq. The living four all have PTSD, although the illness manifests uniquely in each one. The deceased soldier, James Doster (Brad Beyer), is seen in flashbacks. His widow, Amanda (Amy Schumer), is trying to learn how her husband died, but the returning vets either don’t know or are not willing to tell her.
Most of the film involves Sgt. Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) and his wife, Saskia (Amy Bennett), who is struggling to help her husband and “Solo,” a Samoan (Beulah Koale). Their acting is excellent and is one reason the film works. Were the film to have more Hollywood political power behind it, any one of them could easily get an AA nomination (although I doubt this will happen).
The film is character- rather than plot-driven. It is a realistic and intimate portrait about PTSD in veterans and the difficulties that they and their families face once they come home, such as the woefully-inadequate psychiatric treatment provided by the Veterans’ Administration. The film could easily have been melodramatic and manipulative, but it wasn’t, due to the skill of Writer/Director Jason Hall.
At times, the film is difficult to watch and it will put you through an emotional wringer, but I think you will be glad you saw it. It will work fine as a rental, but it’s good enough to see now on the BS.