Boston Film Fest Review: ’No Greater Love’ Reveals the Harsh Realities of War

Neil R. Feeney ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

No Greater Love. Photo Credit: Justin Roberts.
Soldiers in No Greater Love. Photo Credit: Justin Roberts.
Army recognition is seemingly becoming the next trend.  American Sniper received Oscar buzz, and action flicks like Act of Valor and Lone Survivor showed the gritty side of war. Although these films gave viewers a glimpse into war and were great to open up the discussion of the brave men and women fighting for our country, it’s still Hollywood. It’s still glamorized, still backed by studios, and still set to play a certain tune. No Greater Love sets to show the real side of war, the real people in it, and the real effects war has on them. This film puts the viewer in the middle of Afghanistan with the soldiers, then brings them back home and sees the struggle of PTSD firsthand, and it’s truly horrifying and eye-opening.
The film is shot and directed (among other things) by Justin Roberts, who served with the soldiers as a Chaplain. Because he was a Chaplain, he was not able to carry a weapon, so instead he carried a camera. He documented all of what he saw, conducting interviews; seeing the action happen right before his eyes. As with all of the other soldiers, he was “baptized with fire”, and when he got home had trouble coping with the sudden change of scenery and society. This caused him to reach out to the other soldiers he met along the way to try to make a documentary that would show the war as it really is. His goal would succeed in a way that he never believed.
From a technical standpoint, the film surprisingly works really well. Homemade footage of the war shot by Roberts mixes well with interviews with soldiers explaining what is happening, and then shifts tone to mourn the soldiers that were lost almost without a hitch. None of the interviews seem forced, and the film doesn’t ever tell the viewer how to feel. All military jargon is translated, and the stories are easy to follow. But no matter how well the production is, the film never loses its touch on reality, and never for an instant does it feel fake. It’s incredibly easy to see the toll that war has taken on these young men, and it’s incredibly hard to ignore the struggles that they continue to go through.
No Greater Love is a film that demands to be seen, and shows viewers the true fight that most everyday Americans are not aware of, and the brave men and women who fight for us. At the film’s core mission: to show that these soldiers are more than just numbers and uniforms, but beating hearts that live and die along with us. Seeing this film will open up eyes to the horrors of war, and will educate that those horrors don’t just go away afterwards. Most who have shown the greatest love have paid the ultimate price, and this documentary honors and dignifies that in a way that only cinema can.
Overall Grade: A

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