Nick Sambides, Jr.
An interesting, offbeat war movie, A Midnight Clear is often so successful at capturing the loneliness and futility of war and its profound impact upon the men thrust together to fight it that you have to wonder whether Steven Spielberg and Terrence Malick were in some small way influenced by it with, respectively, Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line. Director Keith Gordon is admirably restrained and very detailed in his depiction of a group of six soldiers (Peter Berg, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Ethan Hawke, Gary Sinise, and Frank Whaley) manning a chateau in the icy Ardennes Forest on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge. Like Spielberg later did with Ryan, Gordon wisely keeps the movie's focus on the six men and what they endure. The film has enough character study and intelligence to turn inside out war film staples and get at something deeper: the soldiers' quiet yet harrowing struggle to keep some semblance of decency, sanity, and faith in their lives. A good example: Out on the town together for the first time, the recruits try to pick up a prostitute. It's a cliché. Then they learn that the woman (Rachel Griffin) is actually a nice girl who just lost her husband to the war and is so grief-stricken that getting together with them is for her an act of self-destruction. Their sensitive consolation of her, and her eventual, gentle seduction of all of them, is a touching reminder of how people can find solace in strangers at the worst times of their lives, even war. ~ Nick Sambides, Jr., Rovi