Last week, I watched Rosemary’s Baby and discussed separating the artist from the art. Today, I saw Hacksaw Ridge, a film directed by Mel Gibson, could pose the same question. The story of this film was too powerful for me to allow Gibson’s troubled past to tarnish it. The movie moved me and that is definitely influencing my rating. Hacksaw Ridge is a Must See film with an inspirational story.
Based on a true story of Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield) joins the American Army during World War II to become a combat medic. However, he’s promised God that he would never touch a gun or take another man’s life. As a Conscientious Objector, he has to earn his place among his fellow soldiers who don’t share the same philosophy and must trust him with their lives.
Andrew Garfield should be considered for an Oscar with his performance. This film is over two hours long, but never felt like it. If anything, there is so much backstory packed into the first half of this film one could argue it needed a little more time. Yet, Garfield’s performance is so moving and powerful that his character is easy to connect with. Even the love story with Doss and Teresa Palmer’s character Dorothy Schutte is quickly rushed through their process, but feels 100% genuine. I never questioned their love for one another at all. Their chemistry and Garfield’s charm made it work perfectly in the little time allotted to their story.
Lots of things happen quickly, but all feel organic
Nothing in the film felt unnatural. I did expect to hear more about Doss’s brother who joined the military first, but I was willing to let that be what it was. It is likely that it was his brother’s joining that spurred Doss into action to join himself. Hugo Weaving and Rachel Griffiths play Tom and Bertha Doss, Desmond’s parents. Tom is a veteran who has signs of PTSD after losing all of his friends in the war. Weaving is great and adds to films emotional push. He seems to mean well, but is clearly broken after his time at war.
Vince Vaughn was the casting choice I was most concerned with. He is a sergeant that trains Doss group and goes to battle with them. I couldn’t perceive of Vince Vaughn pulling this character off. However, I feel he did a very good job. There are some moments when he is yelling that doesn’t quite seem intimidating enough. Yet, he manages to use his normal wittiness with a little more edge to make some of the insults stick.
There is no question that the film isn’t perfect. However, with a story like this one it didn’t need to be. The war sequences are shot well and really create the feeling of chaos I would imagine you’d feel on a battlefield. The injuries are graphic and horrifying to see. Doss is heroic and a great example of staying true to oneself.