I have been a fan of director Ang Lee for a long time. The first time I really took notice was with 1997’s The Ice Storm. But since then he has wowed me many more times with beautiful movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, the little seen but thoroughly entertaining Taking Woodstock and the incredible Life of Pi. His new film is based on a best selling book and actually feels epic and literary itself, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
19-year-old Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) has become a national hero after a video of him saving a fellow soldier in Iraq goes viral. When Billy and his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad are brought home temporarily for a victory tour and an appearance in a huge Thanksgiving football halftime show, Billy spends the day contemplating the events in Iraq as well as the rest of his life through flashbacks that reveal what really happened on the day of the heroic video.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a very big but very intimate story. Newcomer Joe Alwyn is stunning in the lead role and has such a strong screen presence you can’t help but feel you have seen him in other films. His story is a powerful one that I am sure resonates even more with audiences that have actually seen war or have family that have. It shows the real difference between what we see on the news and what really happens and the effects it has on everyone involved. And for the character to be trying to cope with what happened at the same time as coping with being at the sensory overload of the football game, being home for only a short time, and dealing with having to return to war, there is a lot of emotional landscape to be covered. But Lee handles the material respectfully and carefully and Alwyn does an incredible job of conveying Billy’s struggles to the audience. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a powerful film about some serious issues and highly recommended.