Often when you ask someone who is their favourite actor especially men tend to name Robert de Niro. Surely his merits are undisputable still he did get on my nerves in several of his films since he´s got the habit of overacting and that way tends to turn into a parody of himself. I thought I´d seen many of his movies and knew that he was at least in two Vietnam related ones, The Deer Hunter and Taxi Driver. Somehow Jacknife sneakily escaped my attention.
I saw it recently and must say, it would have been a pity not to see it and this for several reasons. (Check out the trailer in an older post).
First, I think, it is one of de Niros´ best performances, second I think it is a very good attempt at showing the theme of the Vietnam vet. Post traumatic stress and so forth.
Megs (de Niro) and Dave (Ed Harris) served in Vietnam together. They hadn´t seen each other for a while when suddenly, out of the blue, Megs invades Dave´s home to take him on a fishing trip. Unfortunately he realises he´s less than welcome. Dave showing every sign of full-blown alcoholism still blames Megs for the death of Bobby, the third guy they went to Vietnam with.
Megs tries everything to cheer up Dave but fails completely. The fact that Megs begins a relationship with Martha (Kathy Baker), Dave´s sister doesn´t exactly improve anything.
Even though at first it looks as things were not going well at all, Megs´ likeable character, his outgoing, eccentric ways liven up the brother and sister and ultimately transform them profoundly. The story is interwoven with flashbacks that show what went wrong in Vietnam where Megs was by far too gung-ho and shooting way too fast at everything.
Sure, these are personal stories, character studies, no analyzing of the war as such or its political and social impact.
I just adored de Niro in this and understood again why so many think he´s one of the best actors alive.
[…] Jacknife (1989): A brilliant De Niro in the role of a memorable Vietnam vet. (More details on this movie in my post). […]