#REVIEW: “THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
When our servicemen and women return home they are held up as heroes but often forgotten as they ease back into civilian life. Based on the Book by David Finkel, Thank You for Your Service explores the difficulties military personnel have when they return home looking like the men who left but feeling like very different people.
After serving together in Baghdad, infantrymen Adam, Solo and Will return home changed men after their latest deployment. They all suffer from varying degrees of military post-traumatic stress disorder but each is in denial about how it affects not only himself but the family he returned home to. Solo (Beulah Koale) wants to re-enlist but is unable to due to memory issues caused undocumented concussions he suffered in Iraq. Adam (Miles Teller) feels responsible for tragic incidents that happened during his last deployment and is unable to reacclimatize to life with his wife (Haley Bennett) and children.
Service is not the pro-war propaganda Movie many were probably expecting. Instead it is a condemnation of how the government treats its servicemen and women upon their return, and how those same veterans are perceived by the people around them. The men must report to the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to apply for benefits they are entitled to like medical care so their PTSD can be treated. The very realistic scenes of them trying to negotiate waiting rooms, red tape, and bureaucracy will cause everyone to echo Will’s sentiments, “This shit could give me PTSD.”
Since the Movie is based on a true story, the actors had to weigh their depictions against their real-life counterparts. Like the sergeant he plays on screen, Teller leads his ensemble cast to solid if not outstanding performances. Kiwi actor Koale is particularly good as Solo who feels he owes the Army his life but struggles with his inability to return to the one place he feels at home.
Screenwriter Jason Hall’s first directing effort is a mixed bag. While the movie does drag at points it holds together through the multiple storylines and flashbacks. His efforts at creating additional drama for Solo, however, are nothing short appalling. In search of drugs, Solo finds himself at a dogfight which Hall not only frequently pans to but then has an extended scene showing the after-effects with close-ups of a brutalized dog. Whatever metaphor Hall was going for in this scene missed its mark entirely in the name of poor taste.
Midway through the Movie, Solo says he wishes he had lost a limb so people would recognize how the war disabled him. Thank You for Your Service reminds us that respect shown to servicemen and women must be more than surface platitudes. No one should wish they were an amputee simply to receive services from the government he sacrificed for or respect from his fellow citizens.
Universal Pictures Canada release Thank You for Your Service on Friday, October 27, 2017.