It's ignorant and convenient to refer to Maya Lin's Vietnam memorial as a "mass grave." No one is buried there, and the sense of the memorial's modesty and plainness from afar (as though ashamed of itself) is matched only by the indescribable directness of its power up close. That is the complicated architecture of Lin's breathtaking tribute, the precise analogue to what Jewison's film attempts to convey -- a way to find the courage to break through the shame and begin to bind the wounds.
Time Out saysJewison's post-Vietnam movie concentrates on bereavement, with the consequence that it's decent but dull. Kentucky teenager Samantha (Lloyd) never knew her father who died in the war, but discovers his letters and photos. 'Gee, you missed ET and the Bruce Springsteen concerts', she says. Her role throughout is to reconcile the community with its unacknowledged tragedy, whether coddling her withdrawn Viet vet Uncle Emmett (Willis) or encouraging an impotent mechanic. Her generation not only knows naught of Country Joe & the Fish, but double-naught about GIs collecting VC ears and burning hooches, an ignorance which recalls post-war Germany. The emotional climax arrives at the Vietnam memorial tablets in Washington, with the family finally achieving closeness as they find their lad's nme among the thousands. The mass grave, little more than a hole in the ground as a relative says, is a good visual equivalent for America's attitude towards the shameful defeat. Vietnam had a closed casket funeral.