peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2022 02 05 ComingHome

Coming Home (1978)

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Directed by Hal Ashby in the mode of a vaseline-lensed Robert Altman. After Slap Shot (also written by Nancy Dowd, Oscared here), Who'll Stop the Rain (Vietnam vets) and Harold and Maude (Ashby) this was inevitable.

In brief Jane Fonda (Oscared for reasons unknown) is married (also for reasons unknown) to Captain Bruce Dern who is (for reasons of plot) imminently for Việt Nam in 1968, after Tết. Being the woman she is, soon enough there are schisms with her fellow officers' wives at the base in Los Angeles, solidarity with working-class Penelope Milford, and an inevitable (for all reasons) romance with paraplegic vet Jon Voight (also Oscared for reasons unknown). Things conclude as they must. This all happens after a promising scene in the vet hospital, where the maimed returnees shoot pool and discuss their experiences. Similarly the murderball scenes lift us briefly, transiently, out of the confected romantic morass. It's nostalgic, 1978 pining for 1968, a solid (familiar) soundtrack that made me realise the 1990s retro of my youth was a replay, likely a replay of a replay. Retro has since become a more permanent state of mind.

IMDB trivia. Voight's character is based on Ron Kovic? Say it ain't so. Vincent Canby was unimpressed. Four stars from Roger Ebert despite "the last twenty minutes don't really work".