Thursday, January 19, 2017

Now on FilmStruck: 1918 (1985)

1918 (1985) - Directed by Ken Harrison; Written by Horton Foote; Starring William Converse-Roberts, Hallie Foote, Matthew Broderick.

By Kenny Howell

This could have been subtitled, "When Everything Was Awful".

I had never heard of this film, which Horton Foote adapted from his stage play, until I happened to see it was one of the popular titles on the new movie app FilmStruck. It wasn't totally well-received when it was released in 1985, most basically saying it was slow and depressing.

While I think that is fair to call it that, it does have one really bright spot. That would be Matthew Broderick (Manchester by the Sea) in an early supporting role, acting circles around everyone in the movie.

As the title suggests, this takes places in 1918. It follows a family in Texas as they deal with the ongoing Great War against the Germans, and also a horrible flu which is killing many people in the town. Horace Robedeaux (William Converse-Roberts) is feeling the pressure to enlist to go fight in the war, but doesn't want to leave his wife Elizabeth (Hallie Foote) and their young baby. It makes it worse when his father-in-law offers to care for them so Horace can go fight. His brother-in-law, simply credited here as Brother and played by Broderick, is all gung ho to go fight. But his father isn't totally ready because he is young and kind of a dumbass. If Horace goes, there is a good chance that he could die in battle, and if he stays he could be considered a coward and the flu might get him as well.

Nearly everyone in the film is stage acting, and it feels like one of those staged plays that used to be televised back years ago. But Broderick is the only one that is where it needs to be. His Brother is a scamp of a young man who makes stupid mistake after stupid mistake, but always sure he is one step ahead of everyone else. He is the typical young man that thinks he has it all figured out, which leads him into stupid places again and again, leaving his family to pick up the pieces. It is one of his better young performances, and sign of what was to come.

1918 is now streaming on FilmStruck.

Rating: **1/2

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