New to DVD/VOD this week:
THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O’BRIEN
St Louis, Newport Beach
A portrait of the acclaimed author as he confronts writer’s block, late fatherhood, and his legacy.
Beginning in 1973, Tim O’Brien published several books, many exploring the experiences of veterans, inspired by his time in Vietnam, including such heralded work as THE THINGS THEY CARRIED. His last published work was in 2002, however, as O’Brien put his typewriter away to focus on fatherhood. As Aaron Matthews’ film begins, O’Brien, in his early 70s, has made the decision to return to writing in order to pen what will likely be his last book, a project that is directed to his pre-teen sons. Through the course of the film, the author wrestles with his craft while considering his legacy: Staunchly anti-war, he is known for his writing about war, but despite his best intentions to expose the toll of waging war, O’Brien finds his efforts futile. When he has spoken about his experiences in Vietnam on college campuses, he has inadvertently inspired young men to enlist. Matthews largely focuses on the author’s present-day concerns – his current project, his relationship with his wife, and, especially, his concerns about how his impending mortality will impact his relationship with his sons – and could have delved a bit deeper into O’Brien’s past. That said, the impact of Vietnam, his upbringing with an alcoholic father, and his early career success does help to provide context to O’Brien’s story, and makes this a more rounded and satisfying portrait.