Last Flag Flying

Last Flag Flying is the latest film by acclaimed filmmaker Richard Linklater. The plot follows 3 Vietnam veterans played by Laurence Fishburne, Steve Carell and Bryan Cranston as they reunite to help Carell’s character of Doc bury his son. The film is very much a meditation on life. The script written by Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan focuses on different aspects of life such as mortality and loss. Managing to mix together both comedic, and dramatic elements without either detracting from the other. The film begs the question of when are you past your prime? This is best represented by Bryan Cranston’s character of Sal. “My future is behind me”, in this piece of dialogue we see how fondly he remembers his youth, with the whole thing being a commentary on age. This film in it’s truest form is a character study of these 3 men as they enter into their older years. With each one adapting to life differently we see Cranston’s character clinging to the past, and Fishbourne’s trying to distance himself from the past. This film is made beautiful by its use of juxtaposition, comedy vs drama life vs death. As I said previously this film deals with some dark themes such as a parent outliving a child an idea parents dread. These topics are treated in such a personal, and intimate way you end up truly feeling the characters pain. That pain is perfectly captured by Steve Carell’s performance as the grieving father Larry or “Doc”. Throughout the film we see Doc coming to terms with his loss in a very raw and emotional performance from Carell. The performances from all 3 men are all spot on, with the only noticeable criticism being that Sal does become a little grating at times. There are a few issues with the plot mainly plot holes and things that don’t make much sense. Furthermore, the character of Lt Col. Willits played by Yul Vazquez does feel a little bit cartoon-esque with his motivations being weak. This film will strike an emotional resonance with you and, make you laugh and cry at times. The direction is very strong from Linklater with no screen time wasted. The jokes for the most part land quite well but, this is by no means a comedy film with the dram being highly present especially in the third act. The cinematography of this film is outstanding as it captures this sense of intimacy and, makes it feel very personal. Overall, I think this is well adapted from the source material managing to relay the earnest and personal story of loss and friendship. Only really being let down by a few small issues.
Reviewed by Luke.

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