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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Soldier's Girl


I commented about this movie in the past, but whenever it is on television (tends to be on pretty late), never seem to catch the ending. To repeat:
Later on in the night, Soldier's Girl was on cable, a true story about a solider who falls in love with a transsexual dancer with a military past herself.  It is a good (and tragic) based on true life affair that both concerns their relationship as well the soldier's company, the sergeant who wants to leave sleeping dogs lie, another who wants to find the gay guy rumored, two troubled fellow soldiers and others who just want to have fun and do their job. Each part is well done, including Calpernia Addams [in white], who wrote a book about her own story.  The book is well written but was not in the frame of mind to appreciate its somewhat flowery tone.
Taped the last hour or so to ensure that I saw the ending this time: the brutal nature of the crime is done with the same skill as the rest of the film.  I noted earlier that a striking thing is that the person who portrayed Addams later played an anti-13A member of Congress in the film Lincoln. Thus, one can imagine the skillful job required both on his (sic) part and that of those who made him into a convincing transsexual, including quite realistic looking breasts (which are exposed). 

The film is so powerful and one for repeat viewings because it has so many layers. On a basic level, it is a simple love story. She is truly his "girl" and as noted in an excellent extended article not too long after the murder, him treating her as such meant a lot.  Finding someone who cares for you and treats you right is something anyone would find perhaps a one in the lifetime thing.  The gender issues only makes it more so here. And, that boat ride in the lake reminds me a lot of The Notebook.

The film also is about Barry Winchell, someone who we see early on as someone any woman might find a nice guy when he drives up to the base in a cool car and the woman at the gate basically flirts with him.  Something of a troubled soul, even without the added bit of the romance, there is a lot of story and nuance there.  It also has other stuff involving the people at the base -- as I said -- and to me at least, it all looks pretty realistic.  Andre Braugher as the sympathetic sergeant is just one of those supporting characters that adds to a good film. 

And, it is about the -- this is not meant to be a cliche -- troubled souls that ultimately led to the murder in question.  The person who first took Barry et. al. to the club where Calpernia performed clearly had issues from the first we saw him, including those pills he took.  His own conflicted sexuality is thinly veiled.  He is but an example of one of those dark forces out there that cause society problems, people we cannot just sign off as evil or something.  Not into that sort of thing.  Possession of evil is a useful metaphor, but we are dealing with people here.

And, the film's refusal to show him and the younger guy who actually killed Barry as simple monsters is part of the skill here.  The film overall is rich enough that I can imagine it being but part of a wider story, each character (down to a few minor ones) having additional stories of their own.  There clearly is at least one -- that book by Addams that speaks of her life, some aspects hinted in the film here.  That sergeant with his dogs, Addams' friend and mentor, the girlfriend of another solider who once worked in a gay club etc. all seem to have their own stories too. 

Such is the sign of a good story -- so much there. Sexuality is clearly a theme here though as noted the film has various components that go beyond that.  It is striking really -- we take such things for granted.  That we are a certain sex.  It seems strange to many that some might think they are the "wrong sex," but sex is not merely secondary characteristics. It is on some level something we feel.  We take it for granted.  It's useful sometimes to think outside the box here.  Step outside a bit, so to speak.

I shall take a long weekend, blogging-wise, but come to think of it, this is a good film as any for Memorial Day.  They both were military (she too) and the film is "in memoriam" to both, in a fashion.  A nod to all others and if the latest speech will be path or nod in the direction of policy, however small, to reduce the killing of our own and others, it will honor them too.  One of the best ways to remember is to reduce more war dead.

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