Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

2017-03-10 13:42

What it's about:

Three-time Academy Award® winner Ang Lee brings his extraordinary vision to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel. The story is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing battle in Iraq and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through a sequence of flashbacks the truth about what really happened is revealed – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s distorted perceptions of heroism.

What we thought:

Ang Lee’s work on Brokeback Mountain was a cinematic breakthrough. It was his fresh perspective on the masculine world of cowboys that had everyone talking.

In Life of Pi the amazing CGI brought Yann Martel’s fantasy adventure to life in a mesmerising way.

With Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk the acclaimed director took on yet another challenge when he filmed the movie in a high frame rate of 120 frames per second. That’s five times more than the average rate of 24 fps. 

The result is a hyper-real cinematic experience that exposes every detail of every character from a facial expression, to a tear, to a frown or a wrinkle. 

For the young lead Joe Alwyn (Billy) this meant his every emotion would be amplified. Whilst for older stars like Steve Martin (Norm) it meant every frown line would show. 

Lee aimed to give the film a realism that would engulf the audience. But instead the high frame rate leaves you uncomfortable and created an unexpected disconnect with the characters. 

This bizarrely resulted in a TV movie look and feel with a crispness that didn’t feel cinematic. There wasn’t any warmth or that special essence that makes going to the movies feel so different than watching something on TV. 

The cast did a great job of bringing the characters from Ben Fountain’s satire war novel to live, but somehow the pieces just didn’t fit together. Lee’s version fell flat and even the war scenes had a very unreal feel to them despite the super-real filming technique.  

Another rather awkward moment is the references to Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, who perform during the halftime show. The real singers obviously didn’t sign up for the movie and the way their absence is covered up is cringeworthy. 

Although Lee had good intentions but this adaptation just didn’t live up to its well-written literary counterpart. 

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