Films in Focus: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

There seems to be no shortage of war films coming to market, the vast majority of which seemed to be based upon real-life events in WWII. This week, a new military-themed movie hits theaters, this time around examining the fictional exploits of a US Army squad caught up in the War to liberate Iraq in 2003. Directed by Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a novel written by Ben Fountain, which was published in early May 2012 by Ecco Press, a publishing imprint of HaperCollins. The novel chronicles the experience of a group of Iraq War Veterans who are hailed as heroes and sent on a victory tour following their engagement in an intense firefight that happened to be caught on camera. Set during a single day, the story primarily focuses on Specialist Billy Lynn’s perspective as he struggles to reconnect with his family and come to grips with the huge disconnect between the realities of the war at home and the war overseas as Bravo Squad is sent to participate in the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving halftime show. The novel’s primary themes include brotherhood, the commercialization of war, and what it really means to support the war when the real costs are barely felt by the majority of U.S. citizens at home.

A sharp satire, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is Fountain’s first novel and received highly positive reviews from critics and won several year-end awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Fountain also won the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Awards. The novel was especially praised for its dialogue and “pitch-perfect ear for American talk.” A film adaptation of the novel directed by Ang Lee is scheduled for release in November 2016.

 
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