Imagine my surprise when out of the blue this movie showed up this weekend at my local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati without any pre-release fanfare or advertizing. I didn't know much about the movie, but the premise sounded possibly intruiging and the cast gave me some confidence too.
"War Flowers" (2013 release; 100 min.) brings the story of Sarabeth (played by Christina Ricci) and her young daughter Melody somewhere in the South during the Civil War. As the movie opens, we get thrown right away in the thick of a major battle between North and South. After that, we see Sarabeth and Melody anxiously awaiting news from Sarabeth's husband, who is fighting for the Confederate Army. When finally a letter arrives, it is from Sarabeth's brother, informing her that he has not seen or heard anything about her husband. Meanwhile, we also get to know Louis McIntire (played by Jason Gedrick), an officer in the Union Army, and his dad Gen. McIntire (played by Tom Berenger). Louis has already lost 2 brothers in the war, and his dad, in keeping a promise to his wife/Louis' mother, has decided to send Louis back home to Philadelphia. Louis reluctantly agrees, but at the last minute (just as the train is about to leave), he disobeys his dad and returns to the battlefield, with disastrous results as he gets hurt badly, is left behind for dead and is found by Sarabeth. At this point, we are a good 35-40 min. into the movie. Will Sarabeth's husband return home? What will Sarabeth do with Louis? To tell you more would ruin the plot for you.
Couple of comments: first and foremost, as well intented as the movie seems to be, it was pretty painful to watch, to be honest. The overall feeling I got while watching this in the theatre is that this was some medicore made-for-TV movie, with subpar writing (Gen. McIntire to his son: "You will live, I command it!"), subpar acting (my oh my, whas has become of Christina Ricci?), and subpar production (in the battle scenes, you see soldiers flying through the air when "hit" by a cannon shot, they sure didn't miss their trampoline jump-off!), etc. The acting performances left me most bewildered of all, as surely Ricci and Berenger have talent but it is nowhere to be seen in this movie. Bottom line, in all honesty I simply cannot recommend this movie. Viewer beware.