If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you might remember I took a little trip to Hollywood to walk the red carpet, courtesy of Mom’s Night Out, the incredible generosity of the Erwin brothers, and a dear woman with a heart for military spouses. (Who just so happens to be a West Point graduate and Army wife herself.)
The trip itself was epic but what I cherished most were the connections, so when my friend reached out to offer me an advance screening of Indivisible, I jumped at the chance. Now – full disclosure – I sort of vaguely knew that it was a story about a military family, but didn’t dig any deeper before agreeing to watch and review the movie.
Then I read the description.
“Fresh from seminary and basic training, Chaplain Turner and his family arrive at Fort Stewart. Yet before the Turners can even unpack their new house, Darren is deployed to Iraq. Heather is left taking care of their three young children alone … as well as serving the families of the other deployed soldiers. Despite a desire to stay connected with their loved ones, the harsh realities of war take a daily toll over the course of the Battalion’s extended deployment. Meanwhile back home, babies are born, kids keep growing, and nerves are frayed with every late-night knock on the door. With deeply etched battle scars, the soldiers’ long-awaited homecoming is much different than any of their families anticipated. Carrying burdens the other can’t comprehend, the Turners must decide if they’re willing to face one more battle: the fight to save their marriage.”
Y’all. It took me a full week to work up the courage to watch this movie. Not because I thought they would get it wrong, but because I was afraid they would get it right. I watched this movie from the unique perspective of more than one of the characters. Veteran. Army wife. Grieving friend. A mother who left a child at home while I served overseas. I also watched this movie with tears dripping into my t-shirt because let me tell you, they got a very specific piece right.
(As a family friendly movie they are walking a fine line between telling a realistic war story and having to sanitize certain aspects of said war. As a soldier, it’s natural to pick apart the details, but truthfully, that’s not the real impact of the movie. I did email my friend jokingly after watching it and told her it felt weird because in real life the soldiers would have been cussing a blue streak.)
The quiet moments in this movie are the most intense and accurate.
The rushed conversations between a husband and wife where both parties are protecting each other from the realities of their experience. The goodbyes. A mother, consumed by the crushing guilt of leaving her child, compartmentalizes her emotions until they make her sick, acting cold and distant towards the one she loves most. The rage of devastating loss and grief. Explosive anger at a God who would allow even the worst things to happen. Even the FRG get togethers provide an accurate framework for the monumental moments disguised as ordinary. The storytelling in the movie is heart wrenching, the dialogue an eerie mirror of real life moments played out over two decades.
I see in the Turners, too, the naiveté I started my career with. When the world was black and white, good and evil. When we were young, we loved our country, and we were invincible. Fast forward a solid twenty years and our patriotism is wildly different. The truth is, we don’t all get the happy ending, and we are all changed by the war, living in the gray area between fine and invisibly wounded. Living with the white noise of guilt, uncertainty, and the gaping hole left by the abrupt departure of high speed, high intensity, and life and death in the balance.
But this you need to hear. Even in the broken stories – whether it be the Turners in Indivisible or the countless others sprawled out across the heartland – redemption is possible. Marriage is worth fighting for. Hope is sustaining. And faith will carry us through even the deepest, darkest valleys.
Indivisible, and the true story of the Turners’ fight to save their family, is an unflinching testament to this truth.
*I was provided an advance copy of the movie in exchange for a review. All opinions are wholly mine.