Now Showing: American Sniper

The+Oscar+nominated+film+shines+light+on+the+unspoken+struggles+of+post+traumatic+stress+disorder+and+the+horrors+of+war.

Courtesy of indiewire.com

The Oscar nominated film shines light on the unspoken struggles of post traumatic stress disorder and the horrors of war.

Lilly Ball, Asst. A&E Editor

“American Sniper,” director Clint Eastwood’s newest film, tells the tragic story of Chris Kyle, a man whose service in the Iraq war dubbed him as the most lethal sniper in U.S military history. The film, though at times hard to watch, shows the human side of the legendary Kyle, and the struggle he went through to separate himself from war.

The film begins with Kyle’s childhood, focusing on his relationship with his father, who tells him that he must protect others in life. Flash forward to his early 20s, Kyle (Bradley Cooper) is a rodeo cowboy who is deeply affected when he sees the 1998 U.S embassy bombings on TV. Remembering his father’s advice, Kyle decides that he must do his part in protecting his country, and enlists for U.S. Navy SEAL training. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Kyle is deployed to Iraq for his first tour. His first kill during the war upsets him, but he continues successfully, becoming well known amongst other soldiers for his accuracy. He then returns home, to his wife (Sienna Miller) and newborn child, but finds it hard to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Based on the autobiography, “American Sniper: the Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S Military History,” the film portrays the story of Kyle’s career and personal life. Cooper, who has been Oscar nominated for his performance, completely embodies Kyle. Though he may not outwardly express it, pain and trauma are visible in his eyes. It’s distressing to watch his transformation, from an outgoing young man eager to serve his country to one that has been hardened and closed off emotionally by war. His lines are scarce in certain scenes, but his agonized stares and flashbacks to battle show the trials of PTSD truthfully.

Eastwood doesn’t refrain from showing his audience the full horror of war. More than half of the film’s running time is spent showing Kyle and his companions in battle, with blood, guts, and all. But the battle scenes aren’t just for the sake of action, they are meant to show the hardships that soldiers faced while in Iraq. Kyle finds himself in many situations where he must decide whether or not to pull the trigger; the lives of his friends and fellow soldiers are in his hands. Though the fighting scenes were honest, I couldn’t resist the urge to shield my eyes; “American Sniper” is not for those who are squeamish.

The film is different in many aspects from most recent box office hits, mostly because it is honest. Eastwood did not take the story of Chris Kyle and turn it into something more. He and screen writer Jason Hall worked alongside Taya Renae Kyle to create an accurate depiction of her husband. The combination of intense action scenes and the superb acting of Cooper shows audiences the struggle of a man who fought for his country.