Hell and Back Again Reviews
It has one of the most stirring opening montages I have ever seen in a documentary. It only lasts about 6 seconds, but it brilliantly sets up the rest of the film. Sadly, the film doesn't live up to the promise of the opening, but is still an important look at the modern veteran.
The filmmakers use sound to great effect, layering the sounds of combat over the minutiae of every day life. Showing that even though a soldier may leave the battle, the battle never leaves the soldier.
Also, and much more subtly, Harris is shown being escorted by his wife through a maze of shopping malls, fast-food restaurants, and packed parking lots. Harris is visibly frustrated by this way of life that appears more emotionally taxing than the front lines. Begging the question, what exactly are we fighting for over there?
During the story of Nathan back home, our point of view shifts from time to time to the Afghan war scene. These suggest the flashbacks that Nathan experiences.
Ironic scenes from Nathan playing Call of Duty confront the viewer with the barbarity it is of reducing war to an enjoyable video game.
The strongest moment in the film features one of Obama's speeches touching on the Afghan war. The film suggests the ridiculousness, emptiness and idiocy of Obama's idealized speeches about war, and subtly subverts it when a wounded and indifferent Nathan comments: "Well, Afgan people aren't watching."
This film suggests that even physically unharmed marines come home profoundly wounded, be it emotional. Nathan's neurotic and unpredictable behaviour makes us question what injury cuts deeper, the physical or the emotional.