Taking Chance (2009)
4 out of 5 stars
Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it is an arrow aimed straight for your heart and cannot be denied or denigrated. Films based on actual events have an allure I can’t seem to resist and Taking Chance caught me with its simplicity and humility.
I am struggling this morning to write this review. I can’t see my screen very well. It keeps blurring out of focus as I continue to tear up. Yes, I’m a sentimental fool, but I’m also a mother. I watched the DVD extras and I’m amazed at the strength of Chance’s mother. From the home videos and family memories related there, I could easily see a reflection of my son Derek, who was born just two years after Chance. They had similar interests, personalities and capabilities. This story could easily have been my story had Derek made different choices.
I would agree with most of what I found under the ‘Critical Reception’ heading at Wikipedia, especially with respect to the ‘apolitical nature’ of the film:
One review from The Baltimore Sun, said that it “… is one of the most eloquent and socially conscious films the premium cable channel has ever presented,” and USA Today, said “A small, almost perfectly realized gem of a movie, Taking Chance is also precisely the kind of movie that TV should be making.” On the other end is Slant Magazine, saying “Instead of well-drawn characters or real human drama, we are presented with a military procedural on burial traditions. The film desperately wants the viewer to shed tears for its fallen hero without giving a single dramatic reason to do so.”
The film was the most-watched HBO original in five years, with over two million viewers on the opening night, and more than 5.5 million on re-airings. Critics often attribute this success to its apolitical nature, not directly depicting nor offering an opinion of the Iraq War.
I found it refreshing to hear the name Phelps and not have to cringe. Imagine my relief when the marine’s funeral proceeded without blemish and no apparent protest from the other Phelps of Westboro fame (or shame).
I also found this film more recommendable and uplifting than a similar ‘based on a true story’ tale I watched about eighteen months ago called The Tillman Story.
I may add this film to my library so that I can watch it each Memorial Day. A reminder of all our soldiers, past and present, who gave the ultimate gift to preserve our freedoms and keep us safe at home.