Rarely is a film politically poignant as well as wonderfully written, acted and shot. The second feature from director Kimberly Peirce of Boys Don’t Cry was inspired by her brother, who joined the army, and was only possible after months of meticulous research. It is the story of stop-loss victims — soldiers who are forced back for subsequent tours of Iraq by questionable government legislation. The glory and reality of war are brought home by a frenetic and violent opening followed by a hometown parade. The soldiers then struggle to integrate back into their old lives and Brandon King, played by Ryan Phillippe, travels across America avoiding authorities and trying to find a way to evade returning to Iraq. He makes several stops including a visit to a soldier from his unit who was blinded and severely maimed by an explosion. When this soldier describes himself as ‘lucky’, his upbeat demeanour creates one of the most emotionally affecting scenes in memory.

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