If you’ve considered seeing American Sniper, prepare for a long, intense, gut-wrenching walk into the the darkness of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
While is not in itself a movie about PTSD, there is an important conversation started by director Clint Eastwood’s masterful handling of the subject, especially in the context of Chris Kyle’s life. Many movies in the same genre either fail to address the subject due to its obvious sensitivity, or overplay the intensity by bringing the audience wholly within the subject’s experience of the disorder. American Sniper sits in between, showing us Chris Kyle’s external responses without traumatizing us.
While there are many strong performances, I’m really happy to see Bradley Cooper cutting his chops as a character which doesn’t strongly echo some part of a past character: his portrayal of Chris Kyle is totally immersive, as in “I don’t feel like I’m watching Bradley Cooper this time,” unlike many of his recent Academy Award nominations. In particular, I love the depth that he brings to the character through his eyes: given that so much of our experience of his internal struggle is expressed in small mannerisms, Cooper’s ability to express world without words is truly talented. I’m not sure how it stands in comparison to the other Best Actor nominees — it’s a very strong category this year — but I do think it’s a career highlight.
On the whole, American Sniper is a fantastic war movie that shows us the horror without losing track of the humanity. It’s a strong Oscar nominee, and while it might not win any of it’s nominations, it definitely deserves all of the acclaim it receives.
In many years...
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