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Emotionally moving, but less than motivational anti-war documentary
Its heart firmly in the right place, POSTER GIRL limns the depressing story of Robynn Murray, a gung-ho U.S. Army soldier who came back from her tour of Iraq to doom, gloom and too-late enlightenment. The huge (with those bearing mental problems always under-counted) population of casualties from our two current wars presents a human loss and social problem almost too immense to contemplate.
The film focuses solely on one person, which is a sensible approach. Robynn was literally a poster child, appearing with two fellow female soldiers on the cover of an army magazine to encourage our patriotic fervor and support for these armed conflicts. Though the Iraq debate has subsided as violence in that nation quieted down, Afghanistan (plus its neighbor Pakistan of course) remains on the front burner as American and other Allied soldiers are killed on a daily basis, with little hope (beyond the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel fantasists in our government) of a successful conclusion to the conflict.
Murray came away with a number of ailments, including stress disorder, and in a telling scene shows us an array of dozens of prescribed pills she should be taking, of which she's (wisely) narrowed it down to just two. Her travails with the government to obtain the disability payments due to her have a Vietnam War vet guiding her through the idiotic bureaucratic red tape to a semi-successful conclusion (I wasn't thrilled to hear how little the monthly stipend she finally received was).
Ultimately she freed her mind & spirit, which we witness in various stages of deep, deep depression, through art, taking a plaster cast of her body and using it to create anti-war exhibition pieces made up of pieces of uniforms or her training manuals. It's that good old American "Birdman of Alcatraz" triumph of the human spirit that always gets me, and movie audiences in general.
My caveat in both enjoying and being enlightened by POSTER GIRL is that it wallows in despair, with essentially too little payoff. Does Robynn face a bright future: the answer is no. Is there anybody out there (with power), including Pres. Obama, working to end the current wars NOW: the answer is no. I knew Dennis Kucinich (and his then-wife Sandy) personally back at college in Cleveland (CWRU), but having him in the White House, with Joan Baez as his Secretary of Peace in the cabinet to pull us out of wars is about as remote a possibility as the existence of those UFOs poor Dennis has admitted to seeing.
So while my emotional strings were successfully pulled in watching POSTER GIRL, upon reflection I go back to my own natural state of depression. The film did not provoke action on my part, but merely reinforced my feelings of powerlessness in the face of a huge military/industrial juggernaut taking us all (except perhaps the tiny sliver of jet setters at the apex of our society, readying their exit strategies to relocate to Costa Rica or some other remote spot in case of existential crisis) over the precipice.
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