Lonesome Soldier comes at you fast, hard and direct. It is based on a true story and follows the life of Jackson Harlow, a regular American man who follows his dreams, believes in his country and joins the Army National Guard to serve. He comes home forever changed from war and is deeply affected by PTSD. Harlow has lost friends, his purpose in life and is in danger of losing his loved ones through his traumatic journey. Lonesome Soldier stars Alexander Randazzo (who co-wrote the script) as Harlow, John Ashton (Beverly Hills Cop I, Beverly Hills Cop II and Midnight Run) plays MacRoberts, Harlow’s father, mentor and fellow veteran; and Allison McAtee portrays Teresa, his mother. All three are memorable and moving in their performances. McAtee is noteworthy as a mother caught between losing her son and pushing forward as a loving parent. Ashton plays the loveable yet grumpy father who tells it how it is. He is the wise counselor and guide we all need in our lives.
Initially, Harlow is a dreamer set on a career in the music business, but he cannot seem to get the right break. Harlow’s character grows as he joins the Army and marries his sweetheart, Christy. He is now a man with responsibilities and bills to pay. Leah Grosjean portrays Christy, his dutiful wife who succumbs to the pressures of him being gone on deployment and raising their young daughter alone. Jackson and Christy’s scenes are played with heart and genuineness, especially the tough ones. Grosjean brings her best hometown girl to the film, which makes the audience root for her. She is one of the many talents in this film who has a future career in features and TV with her work displayed on screen.
Harlow experiences true combat overseas in Iraq during the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He deals with loss, survivor's guilt and flashbacks based on his life in country. Harlow brings these demons home with him which are then unleashed on his friends, family and townspeople as emotional hand grenades. He delves into addiction and attempts to numb his pain. He even takes up friendships that are dangerous and self-destructive. His life eventually falls apart without the right support network and coping strategies. All the while his parents and even his former Drill Sergeant help save him.
The action sequences are believable and done well. They evoke the needed surprise and interest from the audience. Their realism keeps us in the moment as well. The direction is strong and on point from Nino Aldi. He brings out the true performances of his actors and sets them up for success in challenging scenes. The cinematography has echoes of the greats like Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker), Vilmos Zsigmond (The Deer Hunter) and Robert Richardson (Born on the Fourth of July). We even feel a little bit of Andrew Lazslo (First Blood) with the lighting in Harlow’s hometown. The smell and feel of small-town America, this being small-town Tennessee in the story, transcend the screen. Even inclusions such as Harlow outgrowing his friends and feeling out of place at home further the drama and narrative. These key elements all add to the overall realism of the film.
The film and the performances emotionally moved me and made me recall some of my service-connected experiences in war with the Marines. It also reminded me of my maturation process as a veteran. I am most proud of the efforts of the actors, crew and producers of Lonesome Soldier. Making a movie is hard, and making a good one is even harder, the Lonesome Soldier team accomplished the latter with flying colors. I give the film 3 out of 4 Red Star Clusters and a must-watch for audience members, especially veterans and their families. Military Movies has started on the right foot with Lonesome Soldier and I look forward to further films from them. The movie will be available soon on VOD, Feb 6, 2024. Check it out and gain new insight into the lives of veterans with PTSD.
The film is currently available starting Feb 6, 2024, on VOD at Google Play, Amazon, Apple+, XBox, DirecTV, DISH, iNDEMAND, Vubiquity and Vudu.