last flag flying
DIRECTORs: richard linklater (boyhood, a scanner darkly)
STARRING: steve carell, bryan cranston, and laurence fishburne
REVIEWER: Lyall carter
Thirty years after serving together in the Vietnam War, Larry "Doc" Shepherd, Sal Nealon and the Rev. Richard Mueller reunite for a different type of mission: to bury Doc's son, a young Marine killed in Iraq.
Steve Carell has been going through a bit of a renaissance lately. We knew that he could handle more serious fare from his outstanding yet understated performance in the film festival darling Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and his Oscar nominated portrayal of Olympic wrestling coach John du Pont in Foxcatcher (2014). Yet he still remained as Michael Scott from The Office of Brick from Anchorman in the minds of many.
But Carell has slowly moved away from the comic films that made his name to more dramatic roles and boy is he fantastic. The Last Flag Flying is no exception.
After losing his wife to breast cancer Doc has no one to accompany him to retrieve his sons body after he has been killed on active duty in Iraq. He tracks down two of his closest friends Sal, who owns and operates a bar, and Richard, who is now a Baptist preacher, who he served with in Vietnam. Together they head to an air force base to collect the body, but Doc decides that he wants to bury his son at home alongside his mother.
The Last Flag Flying is one of those movies that you tell your friends that they just have to see. The story is both tender, heartbreaking, infuriating, and funny in equal measure, leaving the audience with the full experience of life seen through the eyes of the three main characters.
Set during 2003 when questions about the legitimacy of the Iraq war was reaching a fever pitch, The Last Flag Flying doesn't ever feel like its getting 'preachy.' After experiencing the Vietnam war and now having a son die in another, Doc does question the validity of the war with Sal and Richard joining the questioning. But they also passionately declare their love of country and the part they played in 'defending' it. The Last Flag Flying isn't a simple morally black and white kind of movie - its complicated and sometimes contradictory just like life.
The comic characters that Steve Carell has played are often extreme and exaggerated, but his performance of Doc is restrained with a certain kind of dignity. Bryan Cranston gives another outstanding performance as the unhinged, alcoholic Sal trying desperately to forget the past. Not to be outdone Fishburne also produces a wonderful performance who is attempting to forget the past by trying to be a better man with the knowledge that the old one is forever lurking in the back ground.
A raw yet beautiful exploration of three men confronting the horrors of their past in light of what they are experiencing in the present. Anchored by outstanding performances from its three leads The Last Flag Flying is a movie not to be missed.