Review: ‘Fort Bliss’ a taut character study of female soldier in crisis


In “Fort Bliss,” decorated Army Staff Sgt. Maggie Swann (Michelle Monaghan) concludes a 15-month tour in Afghanistan, but the reception that awaits her at home is far from warm or welcoming. She’s rejected by her 5-year-old son, Paul (Oakes Fegley, also in “This Is Where I Leave You”), who has been staying with her weary ex-husband (Ron Livingston) and partner Alma (Emmanuelle Chriqui).

Despite what seem like the trappings of a Lifetime movie, writer-director Claudia Myers presents us with an unflinching and complex character study of an imperfect woman juggling motherhood and her determination to succeed among men.

Swann must prove herself twice as good to earn the respect of her subordinates. Despite her tough exterior, internally she’s coping with twice the post-traumatic stress — from witnessing the death of a comrade and from fending off unwanted sexual advances. But she won’t allow any sign of weakness. And her son and ex are neither understanding nor forgiving.


She does find a kindred spirit in car mechanic Luis (Manolo Cardona), and her contradictory sexual frankness and aversion to intimacy add to Myers’ vividly drawn psychological profile.

“Fort Bliss.”

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Playing: At AMC Burbank Town Center 8.

Also on VOD.