In Country (1989)




Director:   Norman Jewison.

Starring:  Bruce Willis (Emmett Smith), Emily Lloyd (Samantha Hughes), Joan Allen (Irene), Kevin Anderson (Lonnie), John Terry (Tom), Peggy Rea (Mamaw), Judith Ivey (Anita), Daniel Jenkins (Dwayne), Stephen Tobolowsky (Pete), Jim Beaver (Earl Smith), Richard Hamilton (Grampaw), Heidi Swedberg (Dawn), Ken Jenkins (Jim Holly), Jonathan Hogan (Larry), Patricia Richardson (Cindy).

daughter's struggle to find out more about her father, who died in Vietnam before she was born


Good movie.  Samantha "Sam" Hughes (Emily Lloyd) has just graduate from high school, but she is very confused about what she should do next.  Should she go to college like her mother wants or should she stay where she is to be with her boyfriend?  As she says so herself, she is confused. Contributing to this confusion, and partly the cause of it, is her wondering what kind of person was her father who died in the Vietnam War.  She wants to know, but everyone else does not seem willing to tell her anything. 

She asks her maternal uncle, Emmett Smith (Bruce Willis), another Vietnam vet, but he does not want to talk about the war.  He is definitely suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as severe headaches and skin rashes, possibly caused by exposure to the herbicide, agent orange, used to defoliate Vietnam to deny the enemy cover for his troop movements.

Several other Vietnam Vets in town are also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and they don't want to talk about the war. 

Sam has to find out about her father through his old letters sent home to her mother.  But this just raises more questions.  Her mother (Joan Allen)  tells her that her grandmother (Peggy Rea) has her father's diary from the Vietnam War.  Sam learns more about the war, including atrocities that upset her, through the diary.  But Sam wants more still.  What does she have to do get others to open up about the war and tell her what she wants to know?  And what decisions will she make about her future?  

Emily Lloyd, who at first I thought was a young Laura Dern, was perfect for the role of the innocent, young girl searching for her father. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.





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