Battle Scars struggles on-screen with the realities of life post-war and PTSD, but behind-the-scenes, it’s a film that likely dealt with the pressures of making every dollar count for this low-budget feature.
The lack of funds shows, and yet, you’ll be so engrossed in writer-director Samuel Gonzalez Jr.’s post-war picture that you won’t care. The Project Greenlight alum so deftly handles duties that you’ll forget for long periods you’re watching a penny-pinching passion project.
Battle Scars is a significant labour of love, and with a hugely talented cast, it succeeds on grit and sheer might alone. The story of two friends who join a third in Vietnam after one gets drafted is less interested in showing battlefields as places of glory than it is in showing the effects the war has on a person afterwards.
The dialogue may be a little stilted, with an awkward score, but overall, the performance of Kit Lang — who transforms throughout the film — is stunning. Joined by supporting performers Arturo Castro and Jonathan Peacy, this cast cares as deeply about the film as their director.
It shows, and I fully, entirely believe if it had a studio budget, Battle Scars would be a bonafide hit. As it stands, it’s a lesson to other filmmakers — and to the audience — that sometimes the difficulties in life are more interesting than explosions and gunfire.
Battle Scars is a scrappy endeavour that will find a special place in the hearts of movie aficionados, if they’ll let it in.