Ah, the late 80s. A time before Robert Downey, Jr. was Iron Man and Kiefer Sutherland was Jack Bauer. I time when both young men were at the top of their game coming off hits like Less Than Zero and The Lost Boys. So how could a film with two great young stars and an all around strong cast be in such a boring film?
1969 is yet another anti Viet Nam film, however, this time around instead of focusing on the war itself, it focuses on how differing opinions of the war tear two families apart in one small American town. The idea is pretty solid and you’d think with the creative force behind the film being Ernest Thompson (he won the Oscar for screenwriting for On Golden Pond a few years earlier) you’d think this would easily be a solid film. Sadly, you’d be wrong.
Ralph (Downey) and Scott (Sutherland) are two best friends in college trying to avoid getting drafted. Things get worse for Scott when is older brother goes over seas and goes missing in action. Scott and his father (Bruce Dern) are constantly at blows with one another. And to top it all off, things get dicey between Ralph and Scott when Scott falls in love with Ralph’s younger sisters, Beth (Winona Ryder).
It’s a solid story for a period drama about the late 60s, but the way the film is put together is terrible. The writing seems very stilted most of the time, with only a few actually good scenes throughout. The directing and editing seem very confused as the film just seems to meander from one scene to the next without any explanation. This doesn’t make the film hard to follow, but it makes it feel very disjointed.
The only thing that makes the film worth sitting through are the fantastic performances by all parties involved. Sure Downey and Sutherland each have better films from this period, but where else can you see these two together? Where else can you see Sutherland chase a half naked Downey around a gymnasium because Downey’s character has done too much acid? Only in 1969.
If you’re a huge fan of any of the primary cast mentioned above, then this movie is worth at least one viewing. Other than that, I can’t imagine anyone falling head over heels for this film. It’s got a few solid moments, but all the filler in-between makes it kind of a bore to sit through.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 and DTS Stereo. This is a great looking film. It is very well presented here.
You get the trailer.
While it was certainly interesting to see a young Downey and young Sutherland act together. While this isn’t what I’d call a bad film, it’s certainly not good. It has a few interesting ideas, it just doesn’t tell them in the most entertaining fashion. The acting of these fine young actors is just about the only reason to give it a shot if you’re interested.
Olive Films presents 1969. Written and Directed by: Ernest Thompson. Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Kiefer Sutherland, Winona Ryder and Bruce Dern. Running time: 95 min. Rating: R. Released on DVD: February 17, 2015.
Tags: 1969, Bruce Dern, Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Downey Jr, Winona Ryder