American beauty 2.0 or American beauty goes to Iraq.
The desert storm was suppose to be big, loud and messy. But for marine Anthony Swofford, Iraq is nothing more than waiting for Godot. Driving around the desert, patrolling the no man`s land, hydrating, dehydrating, masturbating and waiting for something to happen.
Jarhead feels like the American beauty. Both movies are dealing with a dream that never comes true. In American beauty, there`s a dream of self-realisation and a dream of being content with your life. In Jarhead, you got a dreamer who just want to fight and defend their country. But the fight never comes and they end up battling with themselves. How to overcome loneliness, stress, emptiness on the inside as well on the outside, while the rest of the world moves on.
There are some brilliant quotes. There is a scene where soldiers are listening to the Doors. And one of them says “That’s Vietnam music… can’t we get our own music?“.
The whole situation spins off into the absurd when the state of relative peace drives them crazy with anticipation. In one scene, the two snipers are sent on a mission to execute an officer. They have him in their crosshair and just as they are about to pull the trigger, their superiour walks in and tells them to stop, as he will call in an air strike. They are so desperate they actually beg the guy to call it off and let them do it. And as their dreams of the perfect shot are literally obliterated in front of them they sink into even bigger depression.
The pre-last scene shows the peak of their frustration as the desert storm is over and they realised that they never fire their weapons. So their sargent says: “So fire them now!” and a bunch of drunken soldiers are firing their guns into the air.
Another great thing is cinematography and the camera-work. The deser scenes, burning oil wells, the endless landscape of sand and sky and nothing in between.
Compared to Syriana, Jarhead is a lot faster and at the same time it touches the same themes. Politics, war, Iraq and soldiers. Although Syriana deals with it on a higher lever as Jarhead plows low and dirty. And does a good job.