Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: A Marine's Guide to Fishing - A snapshot of a returned veteran's life

Published in the Portland Phoenix

On the one-year anniversary of a life-changing incident on a foreign battleground, a Marine (Matthew Pennington) begins to take up his old life again. In this 15-minute short, writer-director Nicholas Brennan (2009's Portland Phoenix Maine Short Film of the Year Hard Rock Havana) adroitly plumbs the depths of the manifold complications facing servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Showing samplings of eager hangers-on playing patriot games, flashbacks (including sounds of battle that even the ocean cannot drown out), and quiet support from previous generations of veterans, Fishing asks — but only obliquely attempts to answer — whether a life can ever recover from such an ordeal.

On screen an understated, moving film, its power is only amplified by knowing that lead actor Pennington is a veteran (Army, but we'll never tell the Corps . . .) and a battle-wounded amputee — and that 13 other young veterans worked on various aspects of the movie. Backed by a local score (Dan Capaldi) and Maine coast scenery that feels strong without kitsch, Fishing casts a net upon the waters of possibility. What that net catches is yet to be seen.

A MARINE’S GUIDE TO FISHING | Screening at the Nickelodeon, in Portland | March 16 @ 7 PM