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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

trailer break: ‘Taking Chance’

Take a break from work: watch a movie trailer…

Oh man, I’m getting a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes just from this trailer.

No pictures of coffins coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s what the men who sent our soldiers into harm’s way decreed. They thought they could make us forget that Americans were dying in their wars of choice. But they couldn’t keep it a secret — they couldn’t hide it from everyone. This film is based on the personal journal of the high-ranking officer, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC (played by Kevin Bacon here), who accompanied home the body of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, USMC, who was killed in action in Iraq. Assuming what we see here, in the trailer alone, is true, then there was clearly no hiding the stark reality from anyone, photos or no, and clearly none of that “not supporting the troops” bullshit that was invented by the right-wing to discredit opposition to the wars.

It strikes me as wonderfully, deliciously ironic, too, that the policy of no-photos has only pushed a story like this one into a realm that is far more poignant and symbolic than it might otherwise have been, as if pent-up emotion that we might have slowly expended if we’d been seeing those coffins arrive back in the U.S. is now concentrated into this one movie.

Take that, you bastards, and good riddance to you.

Taking Chance debuts at the Sundance Film Festival this month, and then premieres on HBO on February 21 at 8pm Eastern. (At a guess, I’d say this will go straight to DVD in the U.K.)

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