In Country

1989, Movie, R, 120 mins

Review

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Virtuous but plodding adaptation of Bobbie Ann Mason's critically praised novel about the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Kentucky teenager Samantha Hughes (Emily Lloyd) lives with her "mentally alienated" uncle, Emmett Smith (Bruce Willis), a Vietnam vet still traumatized by his war memories. Herself the daughter of a soldier killed in the war before she was born, Samantha begins to question Emmett about Vietnam, attempting to understand what happened there. Eventually, she too becomes "mentally alienated," discovering the horrors Emmett's silence is meant to hide (although the film ends on an abruptly reconciliatory note). Directed without much grace by Norman Jewison, IN COUNTRY makes the expected observations about the war and its putatively damaging effect on the collective American psyche. Lloyd, though technically adept, doesn't really get under her conflicted character's skin; the supporting actors (including Willis) are the film's greatest strength. The screenplay offers little insight into the historical meaning of Vietnam, but serves as a handy compendium of received knowledge about the war. leave a comment

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