The recent studio drama Thank You for Your Service took audiences on a dreary-yet-dedicated journey with U.S. soldiers struggling to get back to living after having their psyches rocked in Iraq. But the documentary No Greater Love presents a more authentic look at the lives of 21st-century war veterans, giving actual survivors a chance to talk about their experiences both during and after their deployments.
Love (the title comes from the brotherly, John 15:13 quote) is the work of director Justin Roberts, who served as an Army chaplain with the “No Slack” battalion of the 101st Airborne Division as they went into Afghanistan. Roberts didn’t have a gun, but he did have a camera, capturing all the insane moments these boys faced. As he rounds up most of the vets he served with and records their testimonials, he gets some graphic, tear-soaked accounts of how soldiers risked life and limb to defeat the bad guys, even returning to action not completely recuperated from their previous war wounds.
Maybe it’s me, since I’ve been watching a lot of war movies lately (especially movies about the Iraq War), but Love reminded me of what I already knew: It’s a jarring, intense experience that’s equal parts traumatizing and adrenaline-pumping. It shakes a soldier to the point where there’s no way that person could possibly go back to civilian life as he once was. But I’m thankful No Greater Love is around to make people realize how much war heroes need our love, help, and support once they come back home. Just telling them “thank you for your service” ain’t gonna cut it.
No Greater Love
Directed by Justin Roberts
Opens December 1, Cinema Village