“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” Review ✦✦✦✧✧

8 February, 2017

Director: Ang Lee
Screenwriter: Jean-Christophe Castelli
Director of Photography: John Toll
Cast: Joe Alwyn, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel

Synopsis: A young soldier praised for an act of heroism during the Iraq War struggles to readjust to life back home, becoming increasingly more disillusioned during an invasive public appearance.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Review:

A silently critical movie about the abyss at the end of a life-altering tour of duty, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is a poignant take on the suffering behind service. Presented in the same register as a cringe-worthy lifetime drama, the film sees another unexpected turn from director Ang Lee who adapts this intentionally garish story in the most patriotic, all-guns-blazing manner as he highlights the excruciating difference between fierce combat and complacent mainstream America. Hassling viewers by subjecting them to the mindless parade that Billy Lynn must face upon his return home, Lee feigns the role of a documentary filmmaker by mixing deep focus dramatics with candid close-ups of his disturbed soldiers.

By prying and provoking the protagonists, the movie nudges us into hating its shoeshine aesthetic, mimicking the satirical brushstrokes of an absurdist war movie like “Starship Troopers” instead of employing the grittiness of a military masterpiece. Lee ensures that the film is deliberately trashy, adding the finishing touches by casting a couple of well-known comedians in supporting roles, although the content never feels misguided as each exaggerated moment adds to the story of Billy Lynn’s struggle to find peace in the place he most expected it.

Hailed as a hero for an impulsive moment that just so happened to be caught on camera, the fresh-faced private discovers the truth behind fame as event planners and businessmen push his PTSD-riddled friends into the limelight but only ever in the shadow of bolder and brighter icons. Footballers and popstars shield the public from their true idols, contributing to the servicemen’s erasure from society by soaking up all the glory and taking their place in front and centre.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” sees an honourable march turned into pop music, reducing the soldiers to mere props in a gaudy display of decadence and obliviousness as the film allows its heroes to be attacked and ridiculed under the daze of bright lights and the sear of blinded eyes. Deeply scathing and multifaceted in its execution, the movie is a tough nut to crack but it provides an important spin on what it means to be a hero in a selfish and easily distracted world.


Review Date
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk