Stop-Loss Kimberly Peirce

Stop-Loss Kimberly Peirce
Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Pierce ends her lengthy absence from filmmaking with this earnest mediation on the influence of war on those fighting it. An instant message discourse with her enlisted brother while he was stationed in Iraq inspired Pierce to research deeper into the war from the perspectives of his friends and fellow soldiers. Many of these men created video journals, editing digital footage of camp camaraderie with horrific destruction or tender moments attempting to connect with the locals. Pierce employs a mix of this authentic footage with recreated clips. Near the beginning of the film, there’s quite a lot of it and while one can appreciate the intent, to the average viewer the juxtaposition between these segments and the main film is jarring and muddles the tone somewhat. Ryan Phillippe portrays Sergeant Brandon King, a veteran who returns home after a particularly difficult tour of duty in Iraq. With his service to the army supposedly finished, King goes AWOL when he’s ordered to return to Iraq under the Stop Loss act, an order by the president in a time of war to extend a military person’s enlistment. While on the lamb with his childhood friend, who’s also his sniper-in-waiting friend’s girl, members of his regiment are going to pieces facing readjustment to life outside of the war. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is, predictably, a show stealer in every scene of his small but pivotal role as a solider drowning in drink. Pierce celebrates Levitt’s dedicated method acting for being the most war-opposed cast member playing the most war-hungry character in the insightful "making of.” The young actor’s uncommon presence of mind crops up a number of times in the special features, with his astute questions and observations on acting and motivation. "A Day In Boot Camp” shows the actors actually being put through military training and some of them, like Phillippe, talking about firing guns with a glint of child-like glee in his eye, seem to have taken to a soldier’s life a little too well. The deleted scenes are worth a scan if you enjoyed the movie and Pierce is articulate, passionate and intelligent, if a little dry, in all of her commentary tracks, much like her narrative voice in the film. (Paramount)