Distant Thunder

John Lithgow stars as a Vietnam combat veteran who lives with a group of other veterans in a forest in the Pacific northwest, and who begins to make contact with his son (Ralph Macchio), whom he hasn't seen since he was an infant. Overall, this is a good, sensitive job, with fine, understated performances by the two leads as well as by Kerrie Keane, Denis Arndt, Reb Brown, and Jamey Sheridan. While the plot is not devoid of melodramatic contrivance, the film at least has the merit of suggesting that the trauma of Vietnam for this country is a two-way street—predicated not only on the inability of certain veterans to cope with the present, but equally on the incapacity of a younger generation to cope with the past—and the beautiful use of natural locations (the film was shot in British Columbia) is especially fine. Directed by Rick Rosenthal from a script by Robert Stitzel, which is based in turn on a story by Stitzel and Deedee Wehle.

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