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Thank You For Your Service  : The Scars Of War
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Friday, November 24, 2017
Drama
Jason Hall
Haley Bennett. Saskia Schumann. Miles Teller. Adam Schumann. Joe Cole. Billy Waller

Soldiers may return home triumphant. But coming back with them are also invisible wounds and unaccounted baggage that make it tough for them to slip back into normal civilian life in America.  

 

And so it is with Sergeant Adam Schumann and his fellow soldiers. Theyseem like three frat boys returning after a wild holiday when Adam and Aeiti rib Will Waller about his fiancée on their flight back home.  

 

Except that they’re soldiers returning from Iraq.

 

Writer-director Jason Hall mixes true stories of war veterans with a helping of fictionalised drama to underscore a strong point. That promptness in delivering medical help to heal the scars of war is glaring in its leisureliness. Adam, for instance, is told that he could get a bed at Pathway Home for rehab after maybe six to nine months. To all appearances, he seems fine. He has a wife who cares and two small kids. He has his bones and his limbs intact. But how should hedeal withthepsychological scars of war and the private baggage of guilt that he carries around?

 

Aeiti’s condition is more obvious. He’s losing his memory after a brain injury sustained during an explosion. And he’s fast turning into a mess despite a wife and a child on the way. 

 

Their friend Will Waller is devastated when return to civilian life is emotionally traumatising. The war has left him vulnerable.

 

For Adam, a visit to Michael Emory is partly therapeutic. Emory, who’s happy to be just about alive, left physically much damaged after taking asniper’s bullet to his head. Another visit to Amy Doster, widow of the officer who died in action, helps to further exorcise ghosts that haunt Adam.

 

This isn’t a movie that questions the futility of war but deals with the permanence of emotional war wounds. It is disturbing, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s equally disconcertingwhen grown-up men find relaxation watching a vicious dog tear into another in an enclosure, the tattered canine left to its fate. The brutally assaulted dog gets shelter and a life again, tellingly in Adam’s house. It’s slow healing but Adam must get his life back too.

 

Miles Teller carries off Schumann’s ups and downs with conviction and Beulah Koale as the brain-damaged Aeiti is effective. But by its very premise, this is not entertainment, it’s a stark view of the boys who go to war and come back as different men.

 

For a film that’ll have America look at and deal with its soldiers with immediate empathy, Thank You For Your Service gets a 3* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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