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Coming Home Reviews

Nominated for eight Academy Awards--and winning for Best Actress (Jane Fonda), Best Actor (Jon Voight), and Best Original Screenplay (THE DEER HUNTER, another Vietnam film, won Best Picture and Best Director)--COMING HOME was one of the first films to deal seriously with the plight of returning Vietnam veterans. Unfortunately, it is marred by some cloying melodramatics and overly preachy politics. The story opens circa 1968, when Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern), a gung-ho Marine captain, is finally going off to Vietnam on active duty. His dutiful wife, Sally (Fonda), wants to do her share and begins volunteer work at a local veterans' hospital, where she meets Luke (Jon Voight), a bitter paraplegic. Within a month Sally and Luke have learned that they went to the same high school, knew many of the same people, and have much more in common than most others at the hospital. Luke's anger begins to subside, although he begins speaking out publicly against the war. The friendship broadens Sally's perspective; soon she is becoming more liberal in her politics, more feminist in her orientation, and comfortable leading a life independent of her husband. Eventually Luke and Sally become lovers (in a R-rated scene). Their relationship is jeopardized, however, when Bob is wounded in the leg and comes home from the war a changed man--taciturn but potentially violent. While COMING HOME has its heart in the right place, the script by Salt and Jones is too pat, and Ashby's direction simply too self-satisfied to be wholly effective. What does work in COMING HOME are the small, human, unguarded moments. The performances, undeniably appealing, were deservedly praised, Dern and Voight coming off best.