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Thank You For Your Service review: Impactful and unsettling

THE ASIAN AGE. | ASHWIN VINAYAN
Published : Nov 23, 2017, 9:38 am IST
Updated : Nov 23, 2017, 11:15 am IST

The film stars Miles Teller, Beulah Koale, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Scott Haze in the lead roles.

A still from the film.
 A still from the film.
Rating:

Director: Jason Hall

Cast: Miles Teller, Beulah Koale, Haley Bennett, Joe Cole, Amy Schumer, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Scott Haze

Jason Hall, writer of the very dramatic American Sniper, also based on the American military, chose to keep the drama at bay, when it came to his directorial debut.

Adam Schumann (Miles Teller), Solo Aeiti (Beulah Koale) and Billy Waller (Joe Cole), were among the American troopers stationed in Iraq in 2007. The three witness the death of brothers in uniform during their time, only to return to dysfunctional relationships. The trio’s plummet to PTSD (Post Trauma and Stress Disorder) through the course of their attempt to gel in with civilian life, forms the crux of the story.

Jason, who had all the arsenal at his disposal to make a melodramatic, over-drawn biopic, chose to keep matters straightforward, to such unnerving tenacity, that one can’t help but feel uncomfortable.

Human tendency to respond extremely to deaths has seldom been as appropriately addressed. Three armymen, who’ve seen deaths, some they might have inadvertently been responsible for, are left paralysed in trauma and accountability.

Their aversion towards but subsequent embrace of the idea of taking help for their troubles of the mind is a better testimony on how mental health is a threat to even the ones with purported physical fitness.

The film is devoid of theatrics, which renders its pace lackadaisical and the drama, internalised. Jason Hall never intended for his audience to be entertained and the fact that they leave the movie unsettled is the success he might have desired. The dialogues are relatable, and most of the film is covered via inter-personal conversations. Save for the two war-driven scenes set to the backdrop of Iraq, for a film mounted on a scale as big as this, Thank You For Your Service is a brutally real take on a grossly tabooed issue, sans histrionics.

Miles Teller is no novice to evocative performances, and his turn as the traumatised army veteran, is probably reminiscent of his turn in Whiplash, for the sheer vulnerability he manages to bring forward. However, the film’s breakout performer is Beulah Koale, the New Zealand born actor of Samoan descent. Beulah’s turn as the veteran severely rattled by the death of a trooper, dealing with acute memory loss and coping issues is explosive, to put it lightly, the actor’s response to major stimuli through the film’s predominantly long shots are so natural that one can’t be blamed for empathetically wanting to reach out for the actor himself, out of concern. This is one man who deserves to be in more movies.

Joe Cole in a brief role is heartbreaking and effective. Likewise, Amy Schumer in an uncharacteristically sombre performance leaves a lasting mark. Haley Bennett and Keisha Castle-Hughes, as the spouses of troubled veterans, might fail the Bechdel test if they were to have scenes together. Despite playing second fiddles in a predominantly male-dominated story, their performances are impactful and indispensable.

Thank You For Your Service is as much an allegory on the futility of war, as it is about the gravely under-explored mental health awareness, worldwide. And where best to start than on the lives of armymen, a fraternity associated with their predominant masculinity, one where mental illnesses are perceivedly emasculating. This was one story that needed to be told.

Tags: miles teller, thank you for your service