Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Review
4K, 3D and 120 fps gives a ‘hyper-real’ edge to the film
Movies reviewIt's sort of weird, being honoured for the worst day of your life
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is not a true story despite the look and feel of the piece. It is based on the 2012 novel (of the same name) by Ben Fountain and focuses on the titular character’s emotional wellbeing during a 2004 war support tour whereby he was hailed as a hero after being caught on film rescuing his sergeant during a desert shootout with insurgents. Ang Lee’s film pretty much follows the source material as we watch Billy, who is clearly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, wrestle with his emotions of loyalty towards his comrades, his family and himself all to the backdrop of an extravagant Superbowl halftime show; demonstrating the public’s perception of the war against the actual events as experienced by the 19 year old. Told in ‘real-time’ and ‘flashback’, Lee juxtaposes scenes to invest the audience into the characters as the truth of the story unfolds.
Cast in the titular role is Joe Alwyn, at the time just two days out of drama school and his youthful inexperience bring to life the eyes of the character who is too young to have suffered the events that befell him, it’s no exaggeration to say that Alwyn carries the film with his performance. Lee pioneered a new filming technique utilising all the latest technology available to enhance the dramatic aspect of the film (4K, 3D and 120 fps) which gives a ‘hyper-real’ edge to the film, beyond that of its peers. Essentially it allows a glimpse into the soul of the characters by placing the audience next to the characters as the drama unfolds due to the realistic nature of the film. So that the sets, performances and camera movements all join to form a cohesive whole that is totally unparalleled; as such Billy’s journey becomes our journey with all the emotional baggage it contains.
Whether or not Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is actually enhanced by the technological breakthroughs that have allowed this kind of filming style is largely up to the individual. The story, emotionally charged as it is, and as well acted as it is, doesn’t really have that engrossing characteristic that defines a classic. There is plenty to applaud and yet fully getting behind the characters remains elusive, and, as such, total engagement is lost. In the end, I suspect, the film will probably best be remembered for its technological achievements rather than its subject matter.
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