An old-fashioned, appealingly sentimental drama about homefront life during WWII, “Fort McCoy” could resonate with older ticketbuyers during limited runs in carefully targeted theatrical engagements. It’s clearly a labor of love for scripter, co-director and co-star Kate Connor, who based her screenplay on real-life events involving her mother and grandparents. But this handsomely crafted indie likely won’t reach far below the 40-plus demographic until it launches homevid and cable campaigns.
The story’s the star of this period piece that captures the human drama on the homefront as few films ever have. It’s written by Kate Connor (who plays her real-life grandmother in the film and co-directs with Michael Worth) and you can catch it at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where it screens Apr. 30 and May 5.
The second review is at MovingPicturesNetwork.com. It’s mostly good.
Stoltz’s barber figure battles both internally with his German heritage and externally with protecting a beautiful wife in the midst of both servicemen and prisoners, and Connor does well to create additional points of conflict in the subplots of the film that provide key insight into the politics and the prejudices of the day. (…)
All told, Connor manages the multitude of her tasks with an effective enchantment, and there’s a strong heartbeat at the center of this film. An undeniable sincerity coupled with a solid cast list should help the film find fans on the festival circuit, and a smart distributor might see some solid VOD and home-entertainment returns from an acquisition of this title.
And the first promotional stills from Glee are out (embedded from Spoiler TV):
“Prom Queen” airs two weeks from now (Tuesday, May 10 at 8 pm).
There is a new review of the film at Sonoma News:
Frank Stirn, played excellently by Eric Stoltz who also produced the film, is a barber in 1944 who cannot join the military due to a heart murmur. Desperately seeking a way to still serve his country, he moves his family to Fort McCoy, a POW camp that is home to thousands of Germans and Japanese soldiers. The strongly character driven film offers a snapshot of daily life on the base, where the prisoners seem to run freely as they are consistently wandering into the Stirn’s home, panicking Frank’s wife and children.
“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.