Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has been considered a potential awards season contender pretty much ever since it was first revealed that Ang Lee – Oscar-winning director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi – is the filmmaker adapting Ben Fountain’s acclaimed 2012 novel of the same name. Similar to how Lee strove to push the boundaries of 3D filmmaking with Life of Pi, the director’s adaptation of Billy Lynn’s story was filmed in 3D at 120 frames per second: an approach meant to bring a heightened level of verisimilitude to the movie’s world and its characters.
Both the Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk book and film, the latter of which was scripted by Jean-Christophe Castelli (Lee’s longtime collaborator behind the scenes on his movies), detail the experiences of the eponymous character: a 19-year old Iraq War veteran who participates in a victory tour across the U.S., intended to celebrate his heroic actions during a deadly fight on the battlefield. Over the course of the tour, Billy frequently thinks back to his time in Iraq – and questions the way that his story is being “sold” to the masses, versus the reality of what happened.
The final U.S. trailer for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has now been released online by Sony (see above) and it further alludes to Billy’s (newcomer Joe Alwyn) struggles – both during an overwhelming victory tour that makes him uncomfortable and in his memories, recalling his time in Iraq training under the watchful eye of his superior, a fellow who goes by “Shroom” (Vin Diesel). This trailer weaves in choice quotes from positive early reviews for the film in-between the actual movie footage, in what’s clearly an effort to further bolster the awards season prospects of Lee’s adaptation.
Sony’s final trailer for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is somewhat misleading, as the initial critical response to Lee’s movie (ahead of its regular theatrical release) has been more mixed than its marketing suggests. That can be partly attributed to those reviews having come from a 120 FPS screening of the movie at the 2016 New York Film Festival – where the ultra high-frame rate element didn’t play well with most of the critics in attendance. This should not be an issue for the vast majority of moviegoers, since there are (somewhat literally) only a handful of theaters across the U.S. that are even equipped to show Billy Lynn’s in its native high frame-rate format.
Billy Lynn’s is being criticized for other reasons too – hence the film’s 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, after 17 reviews – but the critical reception for Lee’s film could easily start to improve, once more people have actually watched it. There are some tough-looking competitors poised to join the awards season race after Billy Lynn’s arrives (Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Denzel Washington’s Fences and Ben Affleck’s Live By Night being among them), so Lee’s movie will have to start making a better impression on people quickly if it’s going to keep up and not get left in the dust.
Source: Sony Pictures Entertainment