“McCoy” is a slow burn. Frank’s issues are the most pronounced (he feels inadequate because he can’t fight, some of the soldiers look down on him because he has a German last name, and he worries that his wife will be attracted to the rugged boys in uniform that he services), but the rest of the family has them as well.
Things ramp up when a German soldier escapes the camp and makes his way to the Stirn home when only Ruby is home, leading to the film’s climax, which is perhaps a bit unlikely, but just crazy enough that it would be allowed to happen.
The acting is uniformly strong. Fonseca has the look of a star, Stoltz is the film’s unstable emotional center, and Connor and even the children are solid.
It’s also full of leisurely moments that capture the realities of life on an army base. Tensions are at times high with the prospect of men leaving and never returning (or if they do, they’re likely missing an appendage or are in a box).
“McCoy” is high on drama, light on melodrama.
The film begins with Frank (Eric Stoltz) and Ruby Stirn (Connor), their two children, Lester (Marty Backstrand) and Gertie (Gara Lonning), and Ruby’s younger sister, Anna Gerkey (Lyndsy Fonseca) ,moving to Fort McCoy, where Frank will do his part for the war effort as a barber. When Gertie befriends the young German Heinrich, darker parts of the outwardly idyllic base come into view, including the presence of ideologically unrepentant SS soldiers and child molestation among the prisoners.
“Fort McCoy” only touches lightly on these subjects, mostly because it is mired in several other subplots: Anna finds love in the form and shape of handsome G.I. Sam (Andy Hirsch); Frank feels jealous and inadequate because he cannot fight in the war; and a dangerous SS man threatens Ruby. (…)
Fortunately, most performances are more than up to par with the film’s lofty ambitions. Stoltz is entirely convincing as a man humbled by his German heritage and prevented from showing his American patriotism on the battlefield. Connor clearly proves that she can carry a lead, especially if it’s tailored to her period-piece-friendly looks. Fonseca is delightful as a young girl in love, with executive producer Hirsch also showing great potential as her paramour.