Ang Lee, known for his recent use of emotive VFX (Life of Pi), has again delivered an aesthetically engaging and emotionally driven film with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
A confronting exploration of the contrast between America’s idolising perception of war and its actual realities, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk tells the story of eponymous young solider Billy Lynn (Joe Alywn). After recently becoming a decorated war hero, Billy is brought home with his unit for a victory tour, concluding with an appearance at the halftime show at a Thanksgiving football game in Texas. With the narrative set during a single day, through flashbacks and VFX to portray characters’ thoughts, Lee jarringly shows the varied perceptions of war and what it’s like for boys such as Billy Lynn to “be honoured for the worst day in their lives.”
At times the dialogue and actions are conveniently and overly preachy, making the film’s position on the war in Iraq impossible to miss. However, thanks to the heavy use of close-ups, the emotion rings true from both the soldiers and Billy’s loved ones.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will leave its audience reflecting upon the question: how does one define a “hero”?