An Iraq War film that deserves more attention?

Director Kimberly Pierce

What happened

Director Kimberly Pierce’s new film Stop-Loss, about soldiers returning home from the war in Iraq, came in at number eight and grossed $4.5 million after its opening weekend, making it the latest in a long line of Iraq War movies to flop at the box office. (Variety)

What the commentators said

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It’s too bad that Stop-Loss didn’t do better, said Reihan Salam in TheAtlantic.com’s blog The Current, because unlike other films about the Iraq War, this one actually matters. “The movie aspires to a more affecting, powerful indictment of the war, one that paints the young Americans who choose to join the military as victims, cruelly hoodwinked by politicians with callous disregard for their lives.”

And “pierce plays the antiwar game fairly,” said David Denby in The New Yorker. “Except for a few enraged sentiments that” the film’s main protagonist “unloads on his commanding officer, Stop-Loss is not overtly critical of the war, but the way it uses the soldiers’ experience is inherently political.” Pierce also did a lot of research for this film, interviewing soldiers that served in Iraq and watching “footage that some of them had shot with tiny cameras mounted on their rifles or Humvees.”

Please, said Peter Rainer in The Christian Science Monitor, Stop-Loss “suffers from the same over-earnest melodramatics as its predecessors.” It also “pulls its punches” and “stacks the deck.” And “Pierce wants to make a powerful political statement without ever getting overtly political,” but “it’s impossible to separate out the stop-loss tactic from the misadventures of the war itself, and that’s what this film, to its discredit, accomplishes.”

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