sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 8, 2017

last flag flying
posted by soe 1:46 am

On Monday, Rudi and I had the opportunity to see Last Flag Flying, starring Steve Carell (Larry “Doc” Summers), Laurence Fishburn (Mueller), and Bryan Cranston (Sal) and directed by Richard Linklater.

In the film, set in 2003, Doc seeks out two former Vietnam buddies in what initially seems like an offbeat desire to reconnect, but which turns out to be a request to accompany him to Arlington National Cemetery, where his son is due to be buried after being killed in Iraq. Sal is a disreputable character owns a dive bar in Norfolk, while Mueller has become a responsible preacher and family man. After some initial reluctance on Mueller’s part, they agree (in part because Doc served time for an event they were all responsible for in Vietnam) and the three set off on what becomes a rather epic road trip filled with moments of humor, of truth, of sorrow, and of reckoning. They are eventually joined for a time by a young Marine who served with Doc’s son, but he is clearly peripheral to their story.

Carell plays a resigned, downtrodden guy who is clearly appreciative of his former friends’ company. He plays the character straight, which is usually when I appreciate his acting ability more, while Cranston is given the ability to be more off the rails with his character’s portrayal, but is given the most room for emotional growth. Fishburn’s character tries to offer insight.

Being released in time for Veterans Day and set during the Christmas season, the film ends with an emotionally poignant payoff (bring tissues), which allows you to leave the movie not immediately realizing the rather trite way in which the story has been wrapped up. But that’s ultimately not really the point. Instead, the film highlights the tight brotherhood of military service through the ages, the good and bad sides of military propaganda (at least when it comes to explaining wartime deaths to loved ones), and male friendship, while still questioning what the reasons for war really are. Rudi and I both recommend it (and the soundtrack).

My understanding is that the film draws on the same characters featured in the 1973 film The Last Detail, which I’ve never seen. From a quick reading of the summary of that film, it sounds like while they feature two of the characters and involve a key event, the circumstances given for that event are drastically different this time around, so I would probably view them as separate entities, rather than this as a sequel.

Category: arts. There is/are 2 Comments.