Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne
Review Author: Tiffany
Richard Linklater is a very talented storyteller, more importantly, he is very talented at telling human stories. The stories he chooses to tell are not tales of empty vacuous heroes, they are the tales of ordinary, everyday, humans and their ordinary, everyday lives. And that’s what makes them so wonderfully touching and personal. I have been a fan of a lot of his previous work such as his “Before” trilogy, Dazed and Confused and the very underrated Everybody Wants Some. His talent at producing stories of a wide variety and style that all maintain his central idea of being utterly, beautifully human.
Last Flag Flying tells the tale of a group of Vietnam veterans who have not been together since the war. They are brought together by the death of Larry’s (Carell) son in Iraq. The three have gone on to live very different lives with Larry being the family man, Sal (Cranston) being a consistently drunk bar owner and Richard (Fishburne) being a well respected reverend.
The three embark on a sort-of road trip, sort-of stick it to the man journey, and we are all brought along for the ride. The film contains a number of messages that keep you thinking after the film has ended such as the repetition of history and how different people can respond so differently to the same experience. The film is less a big journey and more filled of little moments and discoveries.
The Linklater approach means that you are not so much immediately sucked into this world as you are instead slowly pulled. The slow reveal of the characters and their lives draws you closer and closer until you find yourself completely transfixed. Unlike Boyhood, where I found myself losing interest about an hour in, these characters are so well developed and written that they really hold you until the very last minute.
The acting is something worth noting for this film. These three men are all very respected leading actors, and all perform wonderfully. It is unusual in that the three main characters hold the film in equal parts, with none of them really taking the “main character” role. The cast is an ensemble and it is their raw talents and chemistry that make their performances noteworthy. However, I don’t think I will ever really be comfortable with a moustached Steve Carell.
In spite of all these wonderful things, I felt a very strange sense of lacking at the end of this film. It is not dissimilar to when you finish a book and find yourself longing to return to the world of that book. It is very possible that nothing amazing happened in that world but you just found yourself acclimatized to it and then, all of a sudden, you are there no more.
Linklater’s style really envelops you in the world of the film and coming out of that comes as a kind of shock to the system. It’s one of those fims that you find yourself selfishly wanting a sequel to even though there is really no need, and probably no benefit to having one. These don’t come along often and are worth appreciating when they do.
Rating: 4 / 5 Whiskeys