Review: COMING HOME (1978)

By Darin Skaggs

I don’t know about years previous, but in 1978 it has become more and more clear that we as a country were furious at the decisions made for the Vietnam War. The Deer Hunter was the big movie that took on the subject that people remember, but there was lighter film that also came out with hints of anger and frustration towards the War. It is a love triangle that does not go well due to not talked about sadness from being involved in the War. That movie is Hal Ashby’s Coming Home.

Sally (Jane Fonda) and Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern) are a married couple who seem to have a fine relationship. Bob is about to go off to war. He does not want Sally to have to work, with that she becomes bored and lonely so she signs up for a volunteer job at the veteran hospital. There she meets Luke Martin (Jon Voight) who now spends his time in a wheelchair due to a war injury. They then form a bond and then a relationship. Due to some protesting of the War Martin is now under surveillance which causes controversy in Sally’s life when the feds inform Bob about the two’s entanglements.

Fonda is pretty good in her role, the script really only allows her to be a real character. She lets us feel her loneliness and finally real compassion when she lets Martin be a part of her life. Dern is fine, but is only supposed to play a jerk that doesn’t fully care about his emotional relationship. Voight is not much of a character either, maybe the two men just cannot create realistic people but Voight, who is supposed to be a guy in touch with his feelings and seems to understand women is just a dull uninteresting character. He should be interesting, due to all the War he has been through and his new challenges being a paraplegic, but sadly he is not.

It really does make the whole movie unfocused. Is it about Vietnam? Is it about women being independent? Is it about love? I am not sure, the script seems really unfocused and just a story that is not about the horrors of war that want to subtly be about the horrors of war. And it does not help the story is really not all that interesting. I cannot get behind love triangles where the one guy the woman is married to is just a huge jerk that doesn’t understand his lady. Dern doesn’t play the biggest jerk in all of film, but still too one sided to work. This also applies to Martin, who seems too understanding of feelings. It is a okay movie, with okay performances.

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