There’s an inescapable sense of immediacy and real risk within “No Greater Love.” Directed by U.S. Army Chaplain Justin David Roberts while he was on active duty in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, this documentary gives viewers an intimate look at the life of soldiers, capturing the dangers present both at war and at home.
As chaplain, Roberts couldn’t carry a weapon when he was deployed with the legendary 101st Airborne Division, so he documented his battalion’s experiences with a camera. He captures arresting footage of attacks by insurgents, as well as quieter moments with his fellow soldiers. In addition to the video from Afghanistan, Roberts also includes interviews with the men after they’ve returned home, where post-traumatic stress disorder is as significant a threat as the bullets and bombs were on the field of battle.
Roberts’ documentary exists beyond politics and beyond religion, devoting its energy to story after story of bravery. The film isn’t always as technically proficient as the audience might want it to be — especially its sometimes distracting editing — but it’s both effective and affecting in its emotionally raw narrative.
In the moment and years later, these men reveal the impact of war on themselves and their families, and it’s a testament to their character. “No Greater Love” may leave viewers emotionally wrecked, but they’ll emerge with additional respect and gratitude for the soldiers’ sacrifice.
‘No Greater Love’
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Playing: Art Theatre, Long Beach