The Deer Hunter (1978)
Reviewed on 2013 May 9
Michael Cimino had a golden ticket after creating this movie, and then his career seemed to evaporate after Heaven’s Gate. It’s really a shame, when this shows what he can do.
In a small Pennsylvania factory town, a group of young men and women are preparing for the wedding of Angela and Steve (Rutanya Alda and John Savage). This circle of people go way back, and the reception is going to be the ultimate farewell party for most of the men before they go to Vietnam. The men are having fun shooting pool, the young women are giddy, and the mother of the groom is questioning why her son is marrying this girl. Add up all this, watch the drinking of the Russian wedding cup, and you get the sick feeling their new lives are off to a rocky start.
After the wedding we’re dropped in Vietnam, and the men are transformed for life. Some of them are completely destroyed.
What makes it so painful — and pack such a wallop — is that I think most of us small town folk “know” these people (though I wish more people danced like that at weddings; what a riot). I had heard plenty about what Vietnam did to soldiers; if you lived back then you saw it. Like a lot of heavy stuff, it’s not for everyone. A friend of mine from high school watched it and was so upset she cried for hours. I didn’t weep, but I felt like I’d had the wind knocked out of me during the notorious POW sequences. The talent of Christopher Walken, Robert DeNiro, and Meryl Streep do the rest.
Four chocolate morsels.