Hollywood provides plenty of movies that show war, whether you want to see life in the middle of it or learn how it breaks out, you’re well catered for.
However, there’s a stark lack of movies that portray life after war, how difficult it can be for those returning to adjust to a ‘normal’ way of life. There’s even less that portray female soldiers.
Blood Stripe follows a woman whom we only know as Sarge, Kate Nowlin (The Carrie Diaries (TV), The Adjustment Bureau) who we vaguely know has returned from active duty.
She returns home to her husband Rusty, Chris Sullivan (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, The Drop), and his sister Barb, Ashlie Atkinson (The Wolf Of Wall Street, Bridge Of Spies) but it becomes clear very quickly that adjustment isn’t going to go well.
Sarge throws up straight after a night of passion, she’s drinking heavily and appears to see blood where there is none.
After trying to hold down a job she takes a drive and finds solace at a camp on a lake, one she once visited as a child. With the camp out of season, she helps Dot, the superbly named Rusty Schwimmer (she just needs to practice…) (The Perfect Storm, Twister), clean up and mend things.
This isolated and work-hard existence is only helping mask the problem though. And when a couple of Metallica-loving guys arrive over the lake, she begins to unravel quickly.
The arrival of a small bible-study group led by, Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal (TV), M.A.S.H (TV)), doesn’t help either nor does trying to get it on with Tom Lipinski (Suits (TV), Youth).
Sarge continues to drink, continues to see things, continues to spiral downwards.
Blood Stripe is a powerful and well shot movie. First-time director Remy Auberjonois – best known as a TV actor (son of Rene Auberjonois) – does very well, helped greatly by the fantastic cinematography by Radium Cheung (The Americans (TV), Billions (TV)).
Star and co-writer Kate Nowlin gives a stand-out performance. She flirts from completely lost almost empty inside to woman possessed with a goal, with ease, scarily so.
You never get to see what Sarge has been through during her time so we never know what exactly is getting to her, it’s unlikely to be just one thing though. Both Nowlin and Auberjonois (husband and wife in real life) deliberately steer clear of mentioning anything like PTSD directly as well.
Regular readers will know my feelings on those traditional Oscar films, the ones where the director films a tree, swaying in the wind, or water flowing, for…reasons I’m never quite sure about.
Well, we get quite a lot of that in Blood Stripe. They’re nicely shot fields swaying and fires crackling and piers in darkness doing, well, nothing. But the fact remains they are there and they slow things down too much for me.
I was also confused by Ken Marks’ character (Step Up 3D, The Wackness). He seems to be the odd-job man around the place but Dot seemed to continually point out the things he can’t do.
He seemed to exist for no other reason than to occasionally make Sarge jump with his innocent statements. We veer-towards him having a sinister undertone but as soon as that happens we just as quickly veer away from it and don’t mention it again. It felt odd.
Having said that I can see Blood Stripe for what it is; a beautifully shot, very well performed piece of work that gives rise to two promising future talents. I just wasn’t as enamoured as perhaps I should have been.