Despite someone getting shot in the first few minutes of Thank You for Your Service, this is not a typical war movie -- it's a movie about mental health and how those fighting for their country are often left in a lurch when they return home.
The battle being fought by the characters isn’t taking place during combat -- it’s the one they face upon their return home. The film follows two main characters and their families as they try to readjust to civilian life.
Sergeant Adam Schumann (Miles Teller) is coming home from his final deployment, and although physically uninjured, he soon realizes his experiences overseas have left him with PTSD.
While he was away, his wife gave birth to their son and he missed milestones in his daughter's life. Fellow soldier Solo (Beulah Koale) believes the military saved his life and is determined to deploy again, while his wife wants to start a family. Following a bombing, Solo suffers serious PTSD and a brain injury that leaves him facing discharge.
After the death of one of their friends, both men vow to get the help they need to put the past behind them. Dealing with Veterans Affairs is a nightmare for both of them, leaving them and hundreds of thousands of other service people very little option but to wait upwards of six months for a bed in a treatment facility.
Thank You for Your Service is graphic in many ways. There is no sugarcoating in any of the scenes. From watching Schumann choke on his comrade’s blood, to Solo destroying his apartment after the smell of burning food triggers a flashback while his pregnant wife hides in terror, audiences are forced to see the full truth of the topic at hand.
The movie is also incredibly honest -- the words “there is no cure for trauma” are said directly, not just hinted at. Perhaps another example of its honesty is the complexity of the guilt that Schumann faces. A choice he made led to the wounding of a comrade, which led to another soldier taking his place and ultimately dying, and his guilt about how the choices he’s made affect his family.
Thank You for Your Service isn’t all doom and gloom. There are just enough positive moments to keep a balance without losing the severity of the issue. The birth of Solo’s son and the final moments are both points that give hope among the darkness.
The film itself is a strong start for first-time director Jason Hall. He also wrote the screenplay, which was adapted from the book of the same name by David Finkel. Overall it is well made, and the performances by the cast are very good. Beulah Koale as Solo was by far the best in my opinion. Teller’s accent, especially during the narration, isn’t always perfect and it takes away from the scene at times. I also found Amy Schumer’s appearance distracting, even though she played the part of a grieving widow perfectly. It was hard to separate her at times from the raunchy comedy she’s known for.
Thank You for Your Service is a very heavy movie to watch but hopefully it can keep the conversation going about how soldiers are treated once they return home and change the way Veterans Affairs handles their cases.
If you have seen Thank You for Your Service and would like to write your own review, click here. ~Hayley Michaud