The difference between ham-acting and depth can be seen when Lee’s Billy loses himself in a cheerleader’s eyes and whispers “Girl, I could run away with you.” Lonergan sums up working-class, ethnic blundering through phony pathos.
They distill culture-war confusion in the characters’ respectful and aggrieved regard of each other.
Lee avoids the fractiousness that currently shreds our national unity by envisioning sensitivity and passion that connects us to Billy.
Lonergan’s static pace and over-obvious compositions attempt fake “realism,” but each scene looks like an acting-class exercise.
, but here he comes off as a self-pitying twerp (“I can’t beat it! His big scene with ex-wife Michelle Williams is a marathon of mutually fumbled schmaltz.
The sense of physical and emotional intimacy makes this movie extraordinary.
Close-ups of Billy’s bright eyes and unsure expression confront us with the perplexity of post-war agony. It’s not simply from stress, and his tears complete the beauty of his youthful sacrifice.
The sister’s plea for Billy to desert (“Trash another country, that’s easy.
Standing up to your own takes a hero”) sums up liberal anti-war attitudes of recent decades, but Lee, screenwriter Jean-Christophe Castelli, and the cast are more than trendy.
The flashback repeats our era’s lousy sense of narrative structure.