Coming Home

1978

Coming Home

Critics Consensus

Coming Home's stellar cast elevates the love triangle in the center of its story - and adds a necessary human component to its none-too-subtle political message.

82%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 22

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,152
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Coming Home Photos

Movie Info

Coming Home is an unsentimental but heartfelt study of the plight of the wounded Vietnam vet. In 1968, Marine Captain Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern) leaves his wife Sally (Jane Fonda) behind when he's called to combat. Sally wants to do her part for the war effort, so she volunteers to work at a local veteran's hospital. Here she meets Luke Martin (Jon Voight), who is paralyzed from the waist down. Their friendship eventually blossoms into love, setting the scene for a climactic confrontation with the returning Capt. Hyde, who though physically intact has been emotionally ruined by his war experiences. Coming Home secured Academy Awards for Fonda, Voight, and scripters Waldo Salt, Robert C. Jones and Nancy Dowd (who wrote the original story upon which the film was based).

Cast

Jane Fonda
as Sally Hyde
Jon Voight
as Luke Martin
Bruce Dern
as Capt. Bob Hyde
Penelope Milford
as Viola Munson
Robert Ginty
as Sgt. Dink Mobley
Robert Carradine
as Bill Munson
Mary Jackson
as Fleta Wilson
Jonathan Banks
as Marine at Party
Tresa Hughes
as Nurse De Groot
Beeson Carroll
as Captain Carl Delise
Gary Lee Davis
as Marine Recruiter
Sally Frei
as Connie
Olivia Cole
as Corrine
Bruce French
as Dr. Lincoln
Teresa Hughes
as Nurse De Groot
Marc McClure
as Highschool Class President
Kathleen Miller
as Kathy Delise
James G. Richardson
as Marine at Party
Dennis Rucker
as Marine at Party
Tony Santoro
as Porsche Policeman
Mary Gregory
as Martha Vickery
Rita Taggart
as Johnson
Pat Corley
as Harris
Gwen Van Dam
as Mrs. Harris
View All

Critic Reviews for Coming Home

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (6)

  • Miss Fonda continues her gallery of sensitive portrayals, Dern is absolutely chilling when he confronts the lovers, Voigt is superb. Despite their efforts and the knowing direction of Hal Ashby, the overall effect is as depressing as the war itself.

    Mar 29, 2019 | Full Review…
  • The film has less to do with politics, women's or otherwise, than with a very conventional notion of the redemptive power of mother love. Which would be all right if director Hal Ashby had managed to mount it effectively.

    Oct 31, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Coming Home is in general an excellent Hal Ashby film which illuminates the conflicting attitudes on the Vietnam debacle from the standpoint of three participants.

    Oct 31, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Cliché piles on cliché to the strains of a garbled '60s soundtrack, but the movie's ending goes some way to recognising its failure. Fonda is magnificent.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • An extraordinarily moving film.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Slowly, disastrously, it reveals its true identity as a three-sided love story about two Vietnam veterans and the one woman who loves them both.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/5

Audience Reviews for Coming Home

  • Sep 27, 2016
    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.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2014
    "Still I'm coming home; yeah, you know I'm coming home some day! The future's brighter now; it's not so far away!" I felt "Look into the Future" fit, because this film came out way before, like, Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home", and because almost as many people forgot about this film as they forgot that Journey existed before it had Steve Perry. Well, I don't know about that, because this film was recognized with a couple major Oscar nods and wins, but the hype kind of died down by the time we got "Born on the Fourth of July", the better about some dude coming back from Vietnam with messed up legs. Actually, in a way, this drama may be more tense than "Born on the Fourth of July", for the female lead has to choose between a paralyzed veteran or, perhaps just as tragic... Bruce Dern. Shoot, Voight may actually look like Tom Cruise compared to Dern, but it's a good thing he's pulling that beard off, while Jane Fonda fails to pull her hairstyles here off, because neither of these dudes might be pretty enough for Fonda. You know that these performances have to be convincing if this film is going to be good, and sure enough, this film is plenty compelling, despite its not having the most convincing story concept, and not just because of who exactly is involved in the love triangle. Now, there are a lot of genuine dramatics, and when there isn't, more often than not, the taste of the storytelling is realized enough to sell, but the fact of the matter is that there are some melodramatics here and there, a few of which are key, and made all the more glaring by their being recognized from other, lesser dramas of this nature. The severity of the melodramatics is debatable, but it's hard to deny that this is a very '70s drama of its type, being borderline predictable in its conformity to formula, and in its sort of playing down its value. Natural limitations are themselves limited in this dramatically rich story concept, but they do stand, as dramatic possibilities go held back by a lack of exploration of political and war themes, for the sake of the love-triangle mumbo-jumbo that is compelling, even on paper, but for only so long. The telling of this story certainly tries to put that to the test, through repetitious fat around the edges which helps a great deal in getting this film to its questionable runtime of about 130 minutes at a clip which is perhaps too steady, particularly when backed by questionable directorial pacing. Hal Ashby takes a thoughtful approach with his direction, and by backing it with just the right amount of style, he never lets things get too dull, but he still works hard to sustain a naturalist air that seems to chill out resonance and dilute a sense of momentum, which is already limited by the natural and other consequential shortcomings. Momentum is ultimately kept stable more often than not by inspired performances found both on and off of the screen, but it often falls so greatly, under the pressure of questionable dramatics, uniqueness and pacing, that the final product all but falls as underwhelming. Still, at the end of the day, the film presses on enough to reward the patient, and do so with the help of entertainment value that thrives on a certain respectable musical value. A tribute to the wartime '60s, this film boasts an often protest-charged folk and rock soundtrack which goes for obvious selections and is often overused, but excellent in its livening things up, even if it doesn't compliment dramatic resonance that much. Director Hal Ashby has other aesthetic tools at his disposal to draw you in, supplementing a sense of taste through an almost dreamy play on Haskell Wexler's cinematography, and breaking up the lively music with a thoughtfulness that, while often too subdued for its own good, is never too bland, and is often immersive. Subtlety goes a long way in driving the heart of this drama more than it retards momentum, as Ashby is generally very realized in his establishing inspiration to do a fine job of fulfilling noble and understandable ambitions. This film's story concept would have been enriched by a much more thorough exploration of themes regarding war and how it affects humanity, but as a romantic melodrama, despite the conventions and histrionics, this story remains intriguing, with a potential to either underwhelm or compel, depending on the quality of the execution. Inspiration to Ashby's directorial storytelling is there, as I said, and when it comes to Robert C. Jones' and Waldo Salt's Oscar-winning written storytelling, there is plenty of fat around the edges, but just as much wit to dialogue, and wealth to characterization, truly brought to life by acting which is an inspired as any type of performance in this film. When Bruce Dern actually shows up, he might very well steal the show in his portrayal of a man returning from war with more emotional scars and physical wounds, but he doesn't really deliver any more than Jane Fonda - who captures a sense of vulnerability and subtle passion to a woman finding new love behind the back of her husband - or Jon Voight, whose remarkable layers capture the aggression, hope and overall human heart of a disabled veteran who finds his life ruined, then with the potential of being restored by passion. When the performances hit, they hit smashingly hard, but they always carry a film which rarely loses too much momentum, carrying enough color and taste to challenge the natural and consequential shortcomings, and reward. When it's all said and done, there are some melodramatics and plenty of conventions behind a somewhat conceptually thin and decidedly draggily told story, thus, underwhelmingness places threats that are ultimately transcended by the colorful soundtrack, tasteful direction, rich writing, and powerful performances by Bruce Dern, Jane Fonda and Jon Voight which make Hal Ashby's "Coming Home" a thoroughly compelling study on the struggles of the heart men of war find upon returning to the real world. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2010
    It's hard to divorce this film from its context, namely some considered Fonda's anti-war activism to be ... "un-calculated" would be a nice word ... if it were a word. Out of that context comes this thesis-driven film that puts the anti-war message in the mouths of the soldiers who know the war best. But Fonda's character remains fairly apolitical; she is not given any rousing speeches about giving peace a chance, and her character is not reduced to the depths that Dern's is. And for that reason, among others, the film wreaks of misogyny. Sally (Fonda) is confined to the role of the helper. Beyond the anti-war message, which glares through every frame, this is a classic story of a man saved by the love of a good woman - a good woman who, by the end of the film, is all-too-willing to provide the same service for her estranged, openly misogynistic husband. Female sexuality is portrayed in an equally reductive fashion. Throughout Sally's first orgasm, the most prominent sight is her wedding ring, constantly reminding us that whatever pleasure she feels is a violation of sexual mores. Though I don't blame the film for its anti-war thesis, it is open season on its reductive view of women. What is more, the film "feels" unbalanced to me. The heavy moments are too heavy, the light moments are too light, and the connective tissue between them is almost non-existent. So, why 2.5 stars? Because Dern's and Voight's performances are astounding. Dern scores a ten the Christopher Walken Creepometer, and Voight's ending monologue made my eyes leak. It is unfortunate that such work wasn't in service of a better script.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2010
    I have to say that the reason that I like this movie is the filmmaking is so right on in every aspect. The cinematography, editing, and acting are all top notch and it carried me through the script which, at times, I thought was mind-boggling bad. Jon Voight and Jane Fonda give their best performances (that I have seen) and make every scene believable with realistic performances which I attribute to the direction of Hal Ashby. There is also the incredible Bruce Dern who gives an outstanding performance as Bob Hyde. The reason the movie irks me is the anti-war stance which works on some levels (the ending of this film is genius) and then totally distracts on other levels (the scene between Dern, Fonda, and Voight at the house with the gun is ridiculous and the whole FBI sub-plot is just plain dumb). I will give Ashby this, that he provides a world that you never know what is going to happen next which is rare. I enjoyed the film for the filmmaking experience, but otherwise, thought it was the love story is a little thin considering that she chose the hottest guy in a wheelchair.
    Tim S Super Reviewer

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