8/10 Films like this are tricky. Not just because this film deals with heart wrenching topics such as PTSD, death, suicide, marital problems, substance abuse, etc. but also because this film needs to appeal to not just the military members and veterans that the story is about, but also mainstream audiences and civilians. The film also has to be respectful of its subject matter and not just try to cash in on the war genre for profit but tell a story that has heart and bears being told. I am glad to say that with all those obstacles for the film to overcome, “Thank You for Your Service” does respectfully overcome them. I definitely have a different perspective watching this film as a veteran but this film is also very well done and you don’t need to be associated with the military to get something out of the film. In fact, this film may even more so be for civilians so they can understand the struggles veterans and military members face whether they see traumatic, horrible things at war or even if they never deployed but still go through depression and dealing with the abysmal VA system that our country has. The film is almost educational in that sense but also avoids clunky exposition to get us there. The writer of “American Sniper”, Jason Hall, writes and makes his directorial debut with this film. Although the direction was more muted and didn’t blow me away, this isn’t a film that needs to or should be overly flashy or stylistic. The editing and cinematography serve their purposes well and I like that Hall cast several unknown actors for some lead roles. Speaking of lead roles, Miles Teller continues to have a great year in not only his great acting but choosing important stories to tell (he was just in “Only the Brave”, another film that very respectfully tells a tragic story). My biggest complaint with the film however does involve the cast. Amy Schumer is totally miscast and very distracting as a widow in her role. It isn’t that she doesn’t go a fine job of acting, she does. But she isn’t in the film long enough to really establish her character so whenever she is onscreen I just can’t help but think of her comedy. She isn’t a dramatic actor and she is much better suited for comedy. I applaud the guts to cast her but feel it did not pay off and she should have been replaced with someone else. Speaking of female leads, Haley Bennett, whom plays Miles Teller’s wife in the film does a great job of showing how difficult being a spouse to someone with PTSD is and her acting and film roles have slowly gotten better over the years. This film may not be as good as “American Sniper” (due to directing legend Clint Eastwood directing that vs. a first time director here) but Jason Hall is a great writer and shows promise for future directorial gigs to come. This is a very important story that will infuriate you, sadden you but ultimately, should give you hope.
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