Bastard’s Road (Brian Morrison, 2020): USA

Reviewed by Lily Papke. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020.

Bastard’s Road directed by Brian Morrison is a documentary about a Veteran named Jonathan Hancock. It follows his journey of walking 5,800 around the country to help spread awareness of the effects of PTSD and other mental illnesses caused from the war. It took him 1 year 3 months and a day. Brian heard about Jonathan’s goal because they went to the same high school and had mutual friends. Jonathan had no hesitation when opening up to him because he knew it would start a conversation on the subject.

This was beautifully filmed and did a great job at educating the audience like saying “Welcome Home” instead of thank you for your service. Jonathan wanted to start helping by being open and honest to Brian in order to give a platform for Veterans to finally talk about it. An example of how serious the mental illnesses is for veterans, in January 2018 they lost five different guys to suicide in one week. Jonathan said something like, we are effectively killing ourselves greater than the enemy. Meaning they lose more people to suicide than the actual war. They only offer a two weeks decompression camps which isn’t actually helpful at all and doesn’t include the necessary tools to adapt back into society. He said a 3 month process with resume help, mental health checks and so on would be ideal. Most Veterans keep their mental illnesses secret based on fear of losing benefits.

This movie was nicely done because of all the different interviews they included as well as Jonathan’s journey. Brian included some montages of Jonathan and his son which really pulled your heart strings. The audience said they all cried throughout the movie. The music was also co written by an Army Veteran named Mike which they said contributed to the realistic expression. I liked how we could see the quality of the film progress as its being told because he got new equipment which makes everything feel even more real. Im happy I saw this film because it’s not something I would of normally watched. Before this I didn’t really know anything about Veterans and the experiences they have to go through and then deal with years after. Brian included not only Jonathan’s story but a variety of others which gave me a broader understanding and really helped tell a collaborative story.

I recommend this documentary to anybody who can relate to being a Veteran or someone who is interested in learning more about the effects of war.

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