Just last week theaters all over the nation premiered the long-awaited film adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The novel was published in 2012 and centers around Billy Lynn, a 19-year-old Army Specialist who is honored at the Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys football game for acts of bravery in the Iraq war.
The story takes place in 2004 and highlights the disillusionment felt by many soldiers during that time period. The film portrays the disconnect between the civilians the men encounter back at home, and the realities of war that they experienced overseas. It also portrays the exploitative nature of the treatment of troops from the Iraq and Afghan wars. The film premiered at the New York Film Festival last month. It uses a high frame-rate (120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution). The faster frame rate creates a feeling of hyper-reality for viewers.
The book’s author, Ben Fountain, talked to Texas Monthly about the novel and the film this month. Fountain expressed relative surprise at the novel’s massive success. He seemed impassive about how it is interpreted onscreen. “I stayed out of the whole movie-making process,” he said.
“My feeling throughout this whole thing has been, the book is the book, and no matter what the film is or isn’t, the book is still going to be the book.”
Fountain said it was difficult to convince his editor to go for the book at all. She said the Iraq war was old news. “The very last thing on my mind was any thought that it might be a movie someday. I wasn’t even sure I still had a career at that point,” Fountain told the magazine.
The movie features some household names like Vin Diesel as Shroom, Billy Lynn’s squad leader. It also brings in Steve Martin as Norm Oglesby, the fictional owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Some roles went to newcomers, though, like the lead role of Billy Lynn, played by Joe Alwyn. Alwyn is a somewhat undiscovered English actor.
Although he had no part in the casting, Fountain expressed approval at the choice of Alwyn for the role.
“Joe Alwyn, of course, is the real surprise, but I figured if they were going to do this right, they’d have to find somebody completely unknown to play Billy. You want the audience to come to him with a blank slate, with no baggage or association from past roles,” Fountain said.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is currently out in theaters across the U.S. You can see it in standard view or in 3-D.