Thank You for Your Service (2017) is an American war movie. It is written and directed by Jason Hall, his first feature film. The film is inspired by the non-fiction book by David Finkel.
It’s a dramatic film chronicling the lives of several American veterans returning from active duty in Iraq and adjusting to civilian life. They have experienced horrifying and life threatening events, and are suffering from symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which are played out in the film. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, feelings of numbness, depression, anxiety, panic, guilt, rage and a loss of control. It’s a gripping storyline, the reintegration of veterans into civilian life impacted by combat, survival and escape. Combat and rescue scenes are essential in a war movie, and those depicted in the film are blood curdling, and serve as the backdrop to the narrative.
Miles Teller plays Schumann, Beulah Koale plays Solo, Joe Cole plays Will, and Scott Haze plays Emory. Hall creates intimate portraits of these veterans as they struggle or fail to adjust to civilian life fraught with the difficulties and challenges of their injuries. They all give poignant and moving portrayals of their characters. I was moved not only by their camaraderie but by their compassion and unwavering support for one another.
Thank You for Your Service is a serious film. War happens, and there is no escaping the harsh reality of war, and it impact on our servicemen and women. As the film depicts, veterans are suffering and hurting. There are about twenty-two veteran suicides a day in America with hundreds of thousands of veterans in need of mental health treatment. If we are truly grateful for their service, then we would show it. Otherwise, the saying, “Thank You for Your Service”, is a meaningless, empty platitude.
Some of the most powerful images in the film include the opening and closing images of an out of focus wide angle shot of a screen filled with hanging military dog tags glittering in the light. It’s a stunning visual image and a metaphor for the sacrifice many servicemen and women have paid to keep us safe. Some of the most dismal images are the scenes in the reception hall at the Department of Veteran Affairs filled to capacity and overflowing with veterans some missing limbs and grievously injured that depict their upward battle in getting help from an understaffed and underfunded bureaucracy. Some of the most difficult to watch were the combat scenes, and Will begging his girlfriend to give him a second chance and its aftermath. One of the most enjoyable scenes was the bar scene with Will, Solo and Schumann dancing to What is love?, a reflection of their deep and mutual affection for one another.
Thank You for Your Service is a moving and powerful film and deserving of your attention if only to understand the grievous injuries many of our veterans have suffered in serving and defending our country, and the difficulty many face in re-integrating into civilian life. It is a thoughtful and provocative film, and a testament to our servicemen and women. Do see it!
Universal Pictures releases Thank You for Your Service on Friday, October 27, 2017