Finally have some free time and thinking of going to the movies, but not sure what to see? I can relate to the feeling. After all, November is filled with so many incredible choices such as Dr. Strange or Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. However, there's a film that you definitely do not want to miss, and that would be #HacksawRidge.
Directed by Mel Gibson, the film tells the true story of WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who refuses to bear arms on religious grounds. Overcoming every possible obstacle (including violence from fellow soldiers) to be a part of the war, Desmond goes on to save 75 men in the battle Okinawa without taking a single life. It's a heartbreaking, heartwarming, tear-jerking story that will keep you in awe long after you leave the theater. It is without question one of the best films of the year, and one that's already generating talk of award nominations — rightfully so!
Andrew Garfield Is Positively Stunning
Whether you know him from #TheAmazingSpiderMan, The Social Network, or from those two episodes of Doctor Who, it's a universally accepted truth that #AndrewGarfield is, simply put, brilliant. Hacksaw Ridge will make you love him even more. He has never shone so brightly as he has while portraying Desmond, and it's undoubtedly because of his passion for it. Speaking to Time, Garfield said:
"One of the main reasons I was drawn to doing it and to playing him was his awareness of his own ego and humanity, but his faith was the strongest part of him. He was empty enough to be in touch with spirit, to be in touch with his own deep inner-self, to be in touch with God — insert whatever word you, personally, feel closest to here. For me, every day it’s a different word. God, true self, deep self, spirit, soul, cosmos, community, whatever."
Garfield brings both a gentle kindness and an intense bravery to the film. In the most gruesome moments, you will find light and hope in him. You will smile and clutch your heart, you will chuckle and you will definitely shed some tears. He has this adorable air of modesty and confidence that will draw you to him right from the start. Desmond is a true protagonist, one that is impossible not to root for, and they couldn't have picked a better leading man. Garfield is already in talks for potential award nominations and, frankly, I will be shocked if he doesn't win. It was without question an award-worthy performance.
Mel Gibson Brings The Story To Life Like No Other
Mel Gibson hasn't directed a feature film for a decade, and with all the controversy surrounding him, it's understandable. I know a lot of people will be boycotting this movie because Gibson's name is on it, but I beg these people to not pass it up. As much as you may hate him as a person, as a director he was the perfect choice.
What I really need to applaud Gibson on is the way he captured war on film. He takes you right into the heart of the battle. There's a particular sequence when the men first arrive at Hacksaw Ridge that is just haunting. The cinematography keeps you on the edge, filled with fear and hesitation. All is quiet but for the sound of the men's footsteps, and each time a boot hits gravel, you can't help but flinch. And then, out of nowhere, more bombs are being dropped and more shots fired. This suddenness leaves you shaking with the realization that this actually happened. Gibson is able to make the audience feel the hope along with the hopelessness, the fear, the relief, the adrenaline, and the pure horrific nature of war as if they were actually experiencing it. Say what you will about him, but he told this story in a way I've never seen before.
A Story Of Love, Not Of Hate
Amidst the gore that will have you gasping and the loss that will have you sobbing, in the end this story is not about hatred. War films are so often unbelievably dark. Understandably, as that's what war is, but many are struggling to even call this a war film, instead dubbing it an anti-war film. This is, after all, a story about a man who wanted to do his duty and fight for his country, but he wanted to do so by saving lives, not taking them. Doss doesn't only save the lives of his own men, but those of the "enemy" as well. Each time he saves someone, he prays to God to let him save "one more." We watch as these soldiers go from beating him to looking to him for hope, even waiting for him to finish his prayers before heading into battle.
It's a story of family redemption, as well as Doss' personal love story between himself and his wife, Dorothy. While so many war films leave you feeling exhausted with anguish, this will leave you fulfilled with a sense of hope in a way I can honestly say I rarely experience. Don't be fooled, you will see plenty of blood and guts, and some of the images are disturbingly graphic (it does have an R rating after all), but it's so much more than that. In the end, it's a tale of what love, faith, and a good heart in the face of all adversity can accomplish.
Even if you aren't a fan of films with religious tie-ins, I promise you that Hacksaw Ridge is neither pushy nor preachy. It doesn't tell you that Christianity is right and everything else is wrong. It is about belief, in whatever form that comes in. It's one of those films that you feel like you've been watching for days, in the best way possible. The type of film that makes you feel you're living it, not watching it.
Gibson made some of his most genius directing choices in Hacksaw Ridge, and Garfield has given his best performance yet. With amazing performances by Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington and Hugo Weaving, it is absolutely one of 2016's must-see films. But definitely bring some tissues. You'll need them.
What did you think about Hacksaw Ridge? What was your favorite part? Let us know down in the comments!