Father Soldier Son Parent Guide
This is a hard movie to watch, but it's worth it.
Parent Movie Review
When we consider the cost of war we often speak about military casualties or financial expenditures. We rarely look at the price paid by soldiers and their families during and after their deployments. Father Soldier Son fills that gap and brings us into the heart of the Eisch family, exposing the price they all pay for the war in Afghanistan.
This documentary begins with Brian Eisch, who follows family tradition by becoming the third generation to enlist in the United States Army. Complicating matters is his role as a single father to two sons, Isaac and Joey, from whom he is often separated during deployments. Further complications ensue when Brian is shot in the leg trying to save an Afghan police officer from RPG fire and is severely wounded. His injury is serious enough that he can no longer do many of the physical activities he enjoyed before and he finds that his relationship with his own disability is affecting his relationship with his sons. Over the next ten years, Brian, Isaac, and Joey will all have to come to terms with the legacy of the war in Afghanistan in their own lives.
It’s unusual to see a documentary with so much patience – the ten years required to shoot the film represents a real commitment to the source material. It pays off in buckets, with the long lens of time providing major character development at a natural pace. This is also a remarkably restrained documentary. There seems to be no attempt to edit footage just for the sake of drama or to create political talking points. The focus is entirely on the personal lives of the people involved, and the lingering effects of war and injury on their family.
I should warn you that this isn’t an emotionally bloodless affair. The documentary, in spite of its impartiality, is not about to pull any punches. There are several events which are deeply emotionally traumatic for the family, and seriously upsetting for the audience. This is not a great movie to watch if you’re already in a bad mood – unless you like spiraling into depression just for fun.
It also isn’t suitable for a younger audience, due in almost equal parts to the slow pacing, mature subject matter, and the profanity. While 10 sexual expletives in about an hour and a half is far from record breaking, it isn’t appropriate for children, even if they have the patience for the rest of the film. Adult audiences, on the other hand, should absolutely give Father Soldier Son a watch. It is thought provoking throughout, and the family’s hardships lend what was already a unique and interesting perspective a significant amount of tragedy, forcing the film to adapt to the realities of daily heartbreak. It’s a rough watch, but it’s worth it – unless you’re a big fan of happy endings.Directed by Leslye Davis & Catrin Einhorn. Starring Brian Eisch. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release July 17, 2020. Updated October 27, 2020
Watch the trailer for Father Soldier Son
Father Soldier Son
Rating & Content Info
Why is Father Soldier Son rated R? Father Soldier Son is rated R by the MPAA for language.
Violence: Some footage of combat in Afghanistan is shown, but there are no specific scenes of death or injury. A partially healed leg wound is shown several times. A child’s body is briefly shown in a casket.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are ten uses of extreme profanity and five uses of scatological cursing, as well as several mild profanities and occasional terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An adult is shown with an unopened beer can.
Page last updated October 27, 2020
Father Soldier Son Parents' Guide
Isaac talks about his willingness to fight even when he doesn’t understand the policy decisions or goals which he will be fighting for. What policy decisions led to the war in Afghanistan specifically? What has the course of that war been like? What has the cost been? What goals have been achieved?
The New York Times: Need a Refresher on the War in Afghanistan? Here Are the Basics
Foreign Affairs: How the Good War Went Bad
BBC: Afghanistan war: What has the conflict cost the US?
When Brian comes home, he struggles to adapt to his new life as an injured single father. How do you think his experiences on deployment affected his ability to care for his children? What did Isaac and Joey make of their father’s changes in ability and personality?
Military.com: How Deployment Stress Affects Families