Based on the novel by Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a tale of the US war on Iraq told from the perspective of 19 year old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who becomes a war hero and is brought home for a victory tour which culminates at the halftime show of a football game. The patriotic celebrations of the public contrast with his troubled memories of the experience and it troubles him to be honoured for one of the worst days of his life. The film co-stars Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Makenzie Leigh, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel (ugh) and Steve Martin.
What intrigues me to this film is by no means the plot or genre, but the technical story behind it. Mainly because it is directed by Ang Lee – who won Best Director at the Academy Awards for Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Life of Pi (2012). It would appear this project allows him to combine his incomparable abilities with dramatic storytelling showcased in Brokeback Mountain with the technical spectacle explored in Life of Pi. Lee, together with cinematographer John Toll, has pushed boundaries by shooting his new film in 3D at 120 frames per second with a 4K resolution, a first in film history. The frame rate is five times your average film, which is shot at 24 frames per second, which has only been raised as far as 48 frames per second in the past by Peter Jackson with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012). These technical aspects are said to achieve a higher representation of reality than has ever reached before – although at least some of the feat will go unrewarded as most cinemas aren’t yet equipped to screen at this unprecedented specifications.
Although I’m a supporter of Quentin Tarantino and his bids to urge filmmakers to continue shooting with film, I applaud Lee in his groundbreaking efforts – but I feel that groundbreaking techniques deserve a groundbreaking story. How many films about the US war on Iraq do we need? A desert – even if it is shot at 120 frames per second – is still a bland mass of sky and sand! Lee being the masterful storyteller he is, perhaps the familiar war story will be told in a way as equally unfamiliar as it was shot. Judging by the roles Kristen Stewart tends to chose, its highly likely there will be something that other films about the same subject haven’t yet brought to the table. She has attested to Lee’s attention to detail from an actors point of view and the unique and specific point of view only attributable to him.
Long story short I think it’s best to get your ass down to the cinema for this one, don’t wait for it to be released on DVD. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has been released today in the US and will be out in UK cinemas in January. Thankfully, rumour has it that Vin Diesel isn’t in it for long. You can watch the trailer below.
Garrett Hedlund in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Kristen Stewart in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk