“We don’t have to go to Vietnam to find reasons to kill ourselves.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
In GFTFF, Peary writes that “Fonda won an Oscar with her appealing performance, playing one of her naive women who bravely step into unknown territory and become politicized” — but he adds that “Voight is even better in his Oscar-winning performance”, playing “his character with amazing intelligence, sensitivity, restraint, and lack of pretension”. In Alternate Oscars, he writes that Voight’s “role was hard to play for several reasons. Luke [Voight] is in a wheelchair yet must come across as physically fit and sexually desirable. He must display hostility and rage, yet still seem reasonable and not scare viewers into thinking he shouldn’t be welcomed back into society. He must elicit audience sympathy for all disabled vets by complaining about his own treatment, yet not display self-pity” (the latter takes time, but we can see his transformation through the arc of the storyline). Peary adds that he “turns out to be one of the nicest, most admirable, most desirable of movie heroes”.
There are many memorable scenes in Coming Home, including “one of the cinema’s most famous erotic scenes”, in which Voight “and Fonda make love in bed”, and “Voight speaking to a high school about the amoral war” — but other moments stand out as well. Near the beginning of her volunteer work, for instance, Fonda attempts to communicate with a black veteran without realizing he needs his voice box plugged in; when she begins to feed him, she drops his first mouthful of food, and then they engage in an awkward back-and-forth over whether she’ll give this piece to him or not — it’s a version of two people attempting to walk by each other and getting the direction wrong each time. Robert Carradine as Milford’s emotionally damaged brother is also memorable, showing how trauma manifests in mysterious ways; his suicide scene is deeply disturbing. Coming Home isn’t a film one can watch easily, but it’s well-worth viewing.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: