Mending the Line is an engaging, touching and great film that is steadily paced with expert direction. The film features Brian Cox, Sinqua Walls, Perry Mattfield, Chris Galust, Patricia Heaton and Wes Studi. The movie opens in theaters on June 9, 2023 and is a fitting story for June, which is PTSD awareness month.
It is directed by Joshua Caldwell, written by Stephen Camelio and has cinematography by Eve Cohen. The story follows John Colter (Sinqua Walls) who deals with the extreme trauma of war while attempting to readjust back into life stateside. He crosses paths with Ike Fletcher (Brian Cox) through Colter's physician Dr. Burke (Patricia Heaton) while receiving treatment in Livingston, Montana. Fletcher, a Marine veteran himself, takes Colter under his wing in the grand world of fly fishing.
Through all of it, Colter meets Lucy an excellent photographer who has her own struggles. The three bond over fly fishing as well. We get genuine moments of wisdom and humor with Harrison (Wes Studi) who also mentors Colter in the right way and what Fletcher sometimes means. Studi is a Vietnam Veteran of the Army in real life, so he brings an added depth to his character that makes it seem like he just wandered on set and they started filming him. The film touches strongly on making living worthwhile and finding the reason for waking up in the morning.
The most noteworthy elements of the film include acting, writing, directing and cinematography work. Cox is wonderful as a mentor and Vietnam veteran to Colter. He mentors the Marine back into life and pays attention to things that really matter. The relationship developed by Cox and Walls is truly touching, lively and memorable. His wisdom points hit home and translate from the screen. Many of Cox's mantras in the movie can be used regularly by anybody in life. Walls does realistic and fine work as an actor. He is entirely believable as a Marine as is Cox and when Walls's character deals with his traumatic nightmares you really believe he is going through them. Acting on this level is hard to do, and this crew makes it look easy.
Perry Mattfield portrays a wonderful Lucy in the film. She is touching, real and believable. Her character is a photographer turned librarian who reads stories to veterans. Her character is dealing with her own tragic history while trying to find a reason to continue living as well. Colter introduces her to fly fishing and she joins the guys out in the river. We can see the peace these actors portray in the scenes of fly fishing versus the scenes of them back in civilian life. Perry's character wants to help the mentally injured Colter and even keeps him from getting into further trouble with the law.
Patrica Heaton rounds out the strong cast with her performance as Dr. Burke, a caring, no-nonsense, physician who wants the best for Cotler. We see her soft and stern side thought out, especially when she has to be direct with Colter for him to press forward with his treatment. Her connecting Colter with Fletcher is a wonderful character point and shows her deftness at understanding what ills her patients. She brings a specialness to every role and it certainly shows in her work Dr. Burke. We all could use a doctor like her in our lives.
Overall, the film was moving, thought-provoking and worth re-watching. The ensemble brings together a fine performance and the actors portrayed the real-life issues veterans face daily with courage, honesty and talent. The writing, direction and most importantly cinematography add to the story. Many times the shots of the flowing rivers in nature are so breathtaking, you feel as if you could reach out and catch a fish yourself. Some dramatic scenes moved me so much that I needed a moment to catch back up with the film. I will recommend this movie to my friends, family and fellow veterans. You should see it too. It gets a 3 1/2 out of 4 Red Star Clusters as my rating.
Check it out, you will leave the theater feeling fulfilled and having had your heart warmed.