The Ground Truth

"Good"

The Ground Truth Review


Less a documentary on the long-term effects of the Iraq War on combatants than an advertisement for a miscellany of anti-war groups, The Ground Truth does contain (in an abbreviated form, at least) a dose of sorely needed reality for an unaware nation, even if it can't ultimately muster up one single, compelling thesis.

The film's "war is hell" focus comes at viewers hard and heavy right away, putting up still photos of dead American servicemen, and continues all the way as it continually cuts back to images of bloody corpses, both Iraqi and American. At first, it appears that director Patricia Foulkrod is taking a run at the military apparatus itself, a fat and quite inviting target, to say the least. Foulkrod's talking heads are mostly vets, many of them Marines, with plenty to say on many subjects, especially recruiting and the military's hypocrisy. The U.S. military remains strangely prissy about addressing death, its raison d'etre, never once referring to killing in its manuals. This point gets muddied when the film's focus shifts to the dehumanizing rituals of basic training, in which recruits recite bloodthirsty chants about butchering babies. Is Foulkrod saying that the military pretends killing doesn't happen or that it's creating a force of soulless butchers?

This inability to sustain a particular point of view crops up repeatedly throughout The Ground Truth, obscuring some very necessary and effectively delivered testimony by the on-screen veterans. In a sort of latter-day version of the infamous "Winter Soldier" testimony about Vietnam War atrocities, the vets tell of the Iraqi civilians they killed, either honestly thinking they were insurgents or honestly having gotten to the dark place where they just didn't care. Like recovering addicts, many seem to have a moment of clarity after a particularly unnecessary death where they wonder, "Why am I here?" It's one of the better evocations of inexorability of the soldier's killing urge, one that utterly eluded, say, Sam Mendes' Jarhead. Here again, however, Foulkrod obscures the main point: are these deaths an inevitable function of war which the military just won't acknowledge, or is it a unique characteristic of the Iraq War?

In the film's most potent segments, Foulkrod moves from these instances of civilian deaths to how the vets are adjusting to life back home. It's a sad litany of paranoia, PTSD, survivors' guilt, suicide, and the special trauma of those having to figure out how to live with missing limbs. Adding insult to injury is the sight of these soldiers, having given everything they had, being systematically denied treatment by a Defense Department that seems populated entirely by insurance claims adjusters, eager to deny veteran's benefits.

A bulk of the film's better points, however, get squandered by its closing segments, which don't bring the preceding arguments to a conclusive statement (or even an acknowledgement that there may be no easy answer) and instead launch into yet another point of view, namely, that the war should be stopped. Even for the intellectual confusion of the bulk of the film preceding, The Ground Truth contains much that is absolutely vital; that is, the person who would turn away in horror from the truths expressed and shown here has no business supporting the war. However, by turning itself at the last minute into an anti-war advertisement -- a position it could have obviously taken anyway, but should have taken the time to lay the groundwork for early on -- and a rather clumsy one, at that, the film loses a grand opportunity: to preach to the unconverted.

I wish this was a Segway.



The Ground Truth

Facts and Figures

Run time: 72 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 19th January 2006

Box Office Worldwide: $12.2 thousand

Budget: $500 thousand

Distributed by: Focus Features

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Patricia Foulkrod

Producer: Jon Faix Kayyem, Andrew Mysko, Louise J. Wannier, Jodie Evans, Dal LaMagna, Carl Linderum, Victor Scherb, Patricia Foulkrod

Starring: Sean Huze as Himself, Robert Acosta as Himself, Kelly Dougherty as Herself, Patricia Foulkrod as Host / Interviewer

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.