COMING HOME (1978) –
This is a film that I had heard about for years, and one that I wasn’t too interested in seeing. This year, I have been actively making a point to get out of my comfort zone and watch films from actors or directors that I initially wouldn’t turn to. COMING HOME was one of these films that out of Jane Fonda’s filmography I had avoided. I have never been crazy about war films, because I don’t like war, and watching it. Now, as a young woman, I’m ready! I thought I was ready, but I found after a half hour of the film I was not prepared for all that it held. There is a quiet power right from the beginning, especially from Jane Fonda. Her eyes as she watched her husband at home get ready to go off to the Vietnam War is glossed with fear of having her life altered. Fonda more than any other film tells all her feelings at each point of this film through those eyes of hers. It can often be overlooked, because people are paying attention to the change in her hair from straight to curly, which symbolizes her spirit of who she was and who she is. I have found many critics noting this hair change as symbolic, which I can easily see to be true.
All eyes on FONDA.
Thinking about Fonda’s character of Sally, who is this is beautiful, sophisticated, privileged young woman working at a Veteran’s hospital in the thick of the war, I found myself nervous for her and quite anxious inside as I was watching the film. It wasn’t that the men and this hospital were mean to her, it was knowing the feeling of being in a new environment, which is very scary at first that got me tense. It really amazing me the power of film. It can make me physically tense at moments, and make me feel like I am going deep into Fonda’s soul though her eyes, as she tries to figure out John Voight’s character laid up in that hospital bed. Not every actor, actually barely any, act with their eyes and share so much of their soul through them. I wouldn’t even need to see any of her movements to know how she felt about her husband, this new veteran in her life, or how she feels about her gal pal, Vi.
A lot of films about war can be very action based but the interesting thing about this film is that it is talking about what happens when all the action is done with. The thoughts and feelings about war are what matters here, and getting people to think about what it does, and what people think about when they leave the realities of war. I think had this film come out right when the war was happening, many audiences would have been incredibly stressed and angry by it, not wanting to see the truth and real reality that is shown in the film. A glossy picture of cookies and the war hero coming home this film is not and was not. Yes, there is plenty of love and conflict but at its core it is a film that takes off the blinders of the superficiality of war, rocking a person to the good and bad repercussions of it. – Miss. Classic Film