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Insightful, though predictable and straightforward
This is a very handsomely mounted production but unfortunately it suffers due to the lack of passion at it's core. If you are going to place a love story at the center of your film you need to make sure that the two leads have chemistry, the progression of the relationship makes sense and the characters are interesting outside of the relationship. This film fails on all three counts which means that even the small, pleasant moments in the film where we see our two leads as individuals are drowned out by the major shortcomings that the film features. Jane Fonda won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in this film which mystifies me because she is not very good in it and Geraldine Page was also nominated for her performance in Interiors (1978). If you want to watch a great movie about the Vietnam war that came out in 1978 go see The Deer Hunter (1978).
Sally Hyde, Jane Fonda, is married to devoted United States Military Captain Bob, Bruce Dern, during the Vietnam war and is left alone when he is forced to go overseas. She begins volunteering at a hospital for recovering veterans and connects with former high school classmate Luke Martin, Jon Voight, who is initially standoffish but later accepts Sally into his life. Luke becomes radicalized after his friend Bill Munson, Robert Carradine, commits suicide. Sally begins to change as well as she and Luke consummate their relationship but her husband suffers under the weight of his experiences at war and when he discovers their affair it leads to disastrous consequences.
My biggest issue with the film was the love story. We meet two characters who are initially fairly well defined as we see that Luke is a suffering veteran unwilling to let anybody in and Sally is a tough housewife of sorts who feels slightly lost without her husband. Their characters lose their personality and motivation as they get closer together and other than the fact that they are two attractive people it is confusing why the two of them get together. He tells her, when she brings him home for dinner, "I spend about 95% of my day thinking about making love to you" but we have little context for why they want one another beyond this physical attraction. This is a problem because we are clearly meant to be emotionally invested in their relationship and think that they make each other better people. Much like The English Patient (1996) and Titanic (1997) I felt that this film fell flat purely because it couldn't produce a good love story that was meant to hold it up.
The individual performances are also an issue as I felt that Voight was OK, Fonda did nothing for me and Dern was doing way too much. Voight gets the disability acting right and his big talk at the end when he lectures a group of young men about not going to war is moving but I didn't feel like he was on the level of Robert De Niro or Christopher Walken in the better 1978 film. I have found Fonda to be disappointingly flat in every film I have seen her in other than They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969) and her performance in this film is no exception because she doesn't do anything with what could be a layered role. Dern is going crazy throughout the film which makes it hard to care about him when he does eventually decide to kill himself and as with Voight he and Fonda have no chemistry. I don't understand why the actors in this film won awards for their work when superior performances were being given in this year and these actors have all done better work in other films.
I wouldn't recommend this film because it achieve what it sets out to and there are so many better films about the Vietnam war and it's impact on the lives of Americans. Go watch Apocalypse Now (1979), Rescue Dawn (2006) or even Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) before seeing this film because they manage to actually talk about the war while also featuring interesting stories and great performances.
The best, GREATEST inspiring romance movie ever made!
Coming Home has a very strong second act with the romance being excellent and the sex scene is one of the highlights. The standouts are Oscar winners Jon Voight and Jane Fonda, both giving terrific performances. But the plot is your typical love triangle, the movie lacks sophistication and it's overly on-the-nose - both in its politics and in its particularly over-the-top soundtrack.
good script and great acting ......easily one of the better movies about the aftermath of the vietnam war on the veterans.
bored to death watching this
Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Bruce Dern, and Penelope Milford give top-notch performances in Hal Ashby's remarkably human tale of how the impact of war affects those who return and those who enter into their lives. Jane Fonda is the dissatisfied wife of Bruce Dern, an Army Captain. Once he is deployed she tries to make use of her time by becoming a volunteer at a veteran's hospital. She encounters Jon Voight, a paraplegic war veteran and their relationship unfolds in a majestically rich and torrid way. Voight comes off as brash and unreasonable but adds a tenderness to his performance that takes nothing from his tough exterior. Penelope MIlford is another Army wife who also works in the hospital and shows Fonda a bit of the wilder side of life. The dimensions that this study etches out are profound and enriching. Fonda and Voight took home well-earned Oscars for their performances.
Gave this one a spin via TiVo recording, digging into the work of Hal Ashby a bit more. The story of a woman trying to do her part by volunteering during the Vietnam War, she falls in love with a paraplegic soldier who was wounded in combat, which naturally leads into the return of her husband and all the drama that this would entail.
This is a solid drama and well worth a rental at the very least.
It's arguable that framing a narrative that deals heavily with the Vietnam War's effects on veterans as a "love-triangle" was misguided at best and downright offensive at worst. I happen to think that Ashby (mostly) pulls it off by coaxing surprisingly believable performances from Fonda and Voight.
Fonda is exquisite. I've always loved this film but now only really seeing her performance for what it is. :-)