This fictionalized story, based on the family life of writer James Jones, is an emotionless slice-of-life story. Jones here is portrayed as Bill Willis, a former war hero and now successful...
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Set in 1930s Shanghai, where a blind American diplomat develops a curious relationship with a young Russian refugee who works odd -- and sometimes illicit -- jobs to support members of her dead husband's aristocratic family.
This fictionalized story, based on the family life of writer James Jones, is an emotionless slice-of-life story. Jones here is portrayed as Bill Willis, a former war hero and now successful author who obviously drinks too much and is starting to experience health problems. Living in France with his wife, daughter, and an adopted son, the family travels an unconventional road that leaves all of them as outsiders to others. Preaching a sexual freedom, his daughter's sexual acceptance begins at an early age and betrays her when the family moves to Hanover in America. Her sexuality is definitely not the normal for American teens and gives her a bad reputation and outcasts her. Meanwhile her brooding brother struggles with his own inner turmoils about his early desertion in life. Only within the tight knit confines of his family is he comfortable to even speak. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The family is watching Thunderbolt and Lightfoot on TV, which was not even released to theatres until 1974, but we later see a date on a gravestone of 1973 (which means the TV scene was probably set in 1972, since there was an intervening New Year's Eve scene). See more »
The cast part of the credits is divided into three parts: First "Billy" (1-27), Then "Francis" (28-41), and finally "Daddy" (42-51) See more »
A really original introspective about complex relationships.
"A soldier's daughter never cries" by James Ivory presents us with an interesting story about fine aspects of human relationships with really impressive acting. The film is divided into three segments - "Billy", "Francis" and "Daddy". Each containing the protagonist Channe's experiences with three men in her life - her adopted brother, her school friend and her father respectively. The film shows how these experiences let her become gradually mature... emotionally, sexually and also in terms of personality.
Acting is exceptional in this film. The first segment shows the time right after the brother, Billy, being adopted when he was 7 years old. Channe was also 7 at that time and the child actress who played her (Luisa Conlon) really deserves our praise. In the next two segments Channe (14 and 17 yrs respectively) was brilliantly portrayed by Leelee Sobeiski who is much responsible for the rather reserved nature of the character. Kris Kristofferson does a solid job as the father. His character is an unique one, as evident not only by the words he spoke, but also by Kristofferson's accent and expressions. Among the other actors Jesse Bradford is worth mentioning as Billy is last two segments. The actor who played Francis in "Francis" brings too much dramatic persona in my opinion. Though arguably that's one of the best things about the character. And there's also a nice extended cameo by Virginie Lledoyen as Billy's biological mother.
Now about the characters and screenplay. Though stated from Channe's point of view, her father is the major influential character in this film. It was always his decisions, his outlook towards life that affected his family. The character of Channe is somehow very interesting. Her experiences with womanhood and men are written in an unique manner. And how she develops into a warm, soft-spoken yet determined personality is clearly something that Ivory spent time on. On the other hand Billy is a rather shy and quite unimpressive character with no apparent personal feature that should be rendered as a quality. Now Channe's school friend Francis has all the unusual features - he's an opera singer, loves to dance puppets, has a really corky sense of humor and his mother is an existentialist. His relationship with Channe is one of the film's major assets. All the characters are quite multi-layered, even Billy. The script is also masterfully written. A nice example is the conversation between Channe's father and her High School boyfriend Keith. I don't understand French that well so can't comment about the French dialogues though.
Actually, it is a film that is bound to be enjoyed if seen in a special mood. I'm lucky that I had that mood when it was showing on TV. Also it is a film that grows wonderfully with time, segment after segment. It's a really good coming-of-age story that should be considered as Ivory's one of the best works.
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