This blistering examination of American life during and after the Persian Gulf War is one of the most vital experiences I've had with American independent cinema. The story follows the downward trajectory of three New Mexico residents: a woman whose children are the victim of a vicious hate crime because their last name is the same as that of Saddam Hussein; a high school student whose increasing interest in peace activism leads him to run away from his sheltered home; and a returning soldier who indulges in an empty existence while trying to shake off the horrors he's witnessed. The film is not perfect, with some badly acted scenes, and the politics are unquestionably partisan but nothing less than heartfelt. Made over 6 years and 13 credit cards, this film taps into a raw live-wire energy that means everything to the sorry state of independent filmmaking. Both the characters and the film brandish a fierce, wounded innocence that gives way to inconsolable rage at their own ineffectuality under the shadow of war, modulated by some vivid musical and visual digressions, and culminating in a finale of apocalyptic spectacle of fascination and horror. Not everyone will like this, but everyone should see this.
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