The War

Though it's ridiculous on many levels, especially as a story that purports to be set in the Mississippi backwoods in 1970, this movie about a Vietnam vet (Kevin Costner) suffering from posttraumatic stress who tries to rebuild his life and establish a home for his family manages to succeed at times in spite of itself. The main emphasis here is on the feuds and friendships formed by his kids with other local children, some of them black, in relation to a tree house that serves as a fort, which ultimately leads to a rather overblown climax. Directed by Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes) from a script by Kathy McWorter, the movie often shows more heart than head (the implied parallels of the kids' skirmishes with the war in Vietnam, glimpsed in a few flashbacks, are never clearly worked out), but the force of some of the performances—by LaToya Chisholm, Elijah Wood, and Mare Winningham as well as Costner—have a lingering impact. With Lexi Randall, Christine Baranski, Bruce A. Young, and Charlette Julius.

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