I picked up the movie “Memorial Day” on a friend’s recommendation, surprised to find it was filmed here in my home state of Minnesota. I have to say, it was one of best movies about soldiers and war that I’ve seen.
I’ve always been interested in “what happens after.” After the bullets fly, after the IED explodes, after the soldier leaves the war. How does what they experience impact their relationships with spouse, children, family… and themselves? These are the things I explore in much of my writing (especially as pertains to wounded veterans and PTSD).
This movie has it in spades.
I’ve tried writing a novel with flashbacks. It’s hard to do well. Same with a movie. I have never seen a movie able to move from present to past the way Memorial Day does. And does it to great effect!
In the opening scene, we watch the main character (Kyle) get injured in the line of duty. On his last night in recovery an officer/doctor persuades him to talk about his past.
That past is a story of himself as a 13-year-old. He finds his grandfather’s old locker and confronts him with it. His grandfather, who fought in WWII, agrees to tell Kyle the story behind three (and only three) items from the locker. In the process, we get three poignant stories in flashbacks, juxtaposed with both characters’ tight, reined-in emotional delivery.
We go “forward” to see Kyle having parallel experiences in Iraq. Different war, similar experiences. And because of his grandfather’s stories, Kyle has a wisdom about him… an ability to hold onto compassion and learn to live with his decisions a lot earlier in life than his grandfather did.
I’ve seen some reviews that mentioned the acting. I personally thought the actors did a great job. It’s almost easier to shoot an action scene than to show the kind of emotion these characters do. If you want to see an excellent movie that will tug on your heart strings, this is it. Rated a solid 5!