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Just back from combat, a young Marine veteran faces a new battle to find purpose in the mundane existence of civilian life while struggling through a shattered economy while burdened by the physical and emotional scars of war.

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Just back from combat, a young Marine veteran faces a new battle to find purpose in the mundane existence of civilian life while struggling through a shattered economy while burdened by the physical and emotional scars of war.

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Unconvincing
22 August 2015 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

It is an unspoken rule that you don't disparage our nation's brave soldiers in any way, shape or form. Heck, Spam would be every mom's first choice for dinner if only the label depicted a smiling grunt waving the American flag. That said, any applause you hear for Geoff Ryan's "Fray" and protagonist Justin Williams is most likely being feigned.

Williams is a vet who returns stateside after five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He finds himself in a small, depressed logging town. Clearly it's not his hometown so, other than his taking respite in the serene woodlands, we are left guessing why Williams chose to settle in the village from Deliverance.

With no rhyme or reason, Williams takes one class in the local community college. He begins a romance with his professor and shortly moves in with her. This is where the movie falls off the cliff.

In his first night with his love interest, Williams wakes up to a late night panic attack and leaves. What follows is a subtle montage of Williams wandering through the woods in the rain, sleeping in his truck, throwing himself in the mud and yet still showing up for job interviews as if he'd spent the night in a Courtyard Marriott.

After forty five minutes of wondering, "What will he do next?" the movie ends abruptly with a cliché phone call to his doting professor.

It is clear from the outset that Williams struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. He's been to hell on earth and back; we get it. Unlike similar films, however, there are no flashbacks; only the sounds of gunshots and shells exploding inside Williams' head. In The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise recalls a black and white vision of his regiment as it prepares to slaughter Indian women and children. Cruise's feelings are powerful and palpable. Williams "moments" don't have nearly the same impact.

Despite the bare-bones plot, Bryan Kaplan plays the role well and the cinematography deserves special mention. I suppose Fray will satisfy cinephiles who enjoy character studies; for most others Fray will fall flat.


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