Review:  ‘Coming Back From War’ only scratches surface of vet issues


The documentary ‘Searching for Home: Coming Back From War” touches on wide-ranging veterans’ issues, but goes no deeper than that.

Featuring about 20 veterans of various eras, wars, branches of the armed services and backgrounds, the documentary “Searching for Home: Coming Back From War” touches on topics as wide ranging as post-traumatic stress disorder, survivor guilt, amputation, sexual assault, hero complex and less-than-welcome homecoming.

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Using various testimonials as its narration, this well-meaning effort seems like something designated for a VA hospital waiting lounge. In editing down disparate experiences into one account, filmmaker Eric Christiansen essentially makes sweeping generalizations about American military personnel and their travails. Barely scratching the surface of issue after issue, the documentary perpetuates preexisting narratives found in films such as Oliver Stone’s 1989 “Born on the Fourth of July.”

Repeatedly superimposing the motif of an American Indian bonfire dance onto the story of Iraq war veteran Apache JayNesahkluah unfortunately comes off as cliché. The film gets downright ludicrous when the motif is projected onto a powwow at the sterile Mid-America All Indian Center in Wichita, Kan., where Native Americans dance in cowboy hats instead of feathers.

Track down Sabrina Lee and Shasta Grenier’s 2013 “Not Yet Begun to Fight” for a documentary more worthy of this weighty issue.


“Searching for Home: Coming Back From War.”

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.