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  • Summary: From a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, Where Soldiers Come From follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war. A documentary about growing up, Where Soldiers Come From, is an intimate look at the youngFrom a snowy small town in Northern Michigan to the mountains of Afghanistan and back, Where Soldiers Come From follows the four-year journey of childhood friends, forever changed by a faraway war. A documentary about growing up, Where Soldiers Come From, is an intimate look at the young men who fight our wars and the families and town they come from. Returning to her hometown, Director Heather Courtney gains extraordinary access following these young men as they grow and change from teenagers stuck in their town, to 23-year-old veterans facing the struggles of returning home. (International Film Circuit) Expand
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. Reviewed by: Andrew Barker
    Sep 5, 2011
    80
    Covering their lives with intimate access from before boot camp to the difficult return home, Heather Courtney's documentary packs a savage but understated punch.
  2. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    Sep 6, 2011
    70
    Much of what's presented is familiar territory, but it's the moments that fracture prejudices and expectations that stick with you.
  3. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Sep 8, 2011
    70
    Where Soldiers Come From is, more than anything, a commentary on class. In its compassionate, modest gaze, the real cost of distant political decisions is softly illuminated, as well as the shame of a country with little to offer its less fortunate young people than a ticket to a battlefield.
  4. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Sep 6, 2011
    60
    It's only during the last third that the film finds its footing, as the PTSD fallout and collective sense of disillusionment suggest a bigger picture regarding why we fight, etc. Otherwise, this decent, if decidedly personal, look at small-town soldiers works better as an erratic scrapbook than a representative statement.
  5. Reviewed by: Lauren Wissot
    Sep 4, 2011
    50
    A four-year study of an Afghan war-bound group of friends (the mother of Cole, the goofy joker of the group, compares the boys to the characters in The Deer Hunter), Courtney's documentary is equal parts heartfelt and public-television predictable.
  6. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Sep 17, 2011
    50
    There's a good deal of honest emotion onscreen, particularly from the parents left behind to worry, yet the documentary sometimes feels like the work of a filmmaker who began with a preconceived story and wasn't quite sure what to do with the one she actually got.
  7. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Oct 9, 2011
    50
    Despite the film's unvarnished emotionality and even-handed messaging, Courtney never seems to have found an appropriate focus, resulting in a work that's less urgent and involving than its intense subject matter might have dictated.

See all 8 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 1 out of 2
  1. Mar 13, 2013
    6
    An interesting, if somewhat predictable, tale about how young men sometimes stumble into war and the aftermath of that life changing decision.An interesting, if somewhat predictable, tale about how young men sometimes stumble into war and the aftermath of that life changing decision. Neocons like Dick Chaney should be forced to watch this film every day they are alive, for the remainder of their comfortable lives. Expand
  2. Feb 26, 2015
    0
    The film follows the lives of 3 men as they join the military, are trained and deployed to Afghanistan as well as their lives after comingThe film follows the lives of 3 men as they join the military, are trained and deployed to Afghanistan as well as their lives after coming back home. It is a true story, none of the people in the film are actors,and the premise of following a group of soldiers through their military career is extremely interesting. However, the film is Oscar bait in its worst form. The film attempts to tug at your heart strings by depicting the soldiers as victims of an unjust and unfair society struggling with various disabilities. However, all 3 soldiers had drug problems before even joining the military, a fact which is brushed over and never addressed, and by all right should have disqualified them from service (perhaps that is why they ended up in the national guard instead of active army). Even before being sent to Afghanistan all 3 soldiers in the film are demoted for drug use and 2 of the 3 and up being dishonorably discharged due to their continued troubles. Now you may use the excuse that Afghanistan caused them to slip into drug use, but again, they had recorded drug problems before deploying. The film also goes into depth about the injuries the 3 soldiers sustained, which never cause them to be sent back to the US for treatment. However, the film does mention that several other soldiers from the same unit were severely wounded and had to be evacuated from Afghanistan to Germany because of their life threatening injuries, maybe a small focus on them would be helpful. Also, here is no need to complain about being deployed. No one enjoys it, but joining the army in 2007, in the middle of the Iraq serge, and just as Afghanistan was picking up, you pretty much knew what you were getting into.

    Overall the movie follows 3 soldiers who are under non judicial punishment most of their career due to various reasons such as failing drug tests. These soldiers are intend to blame all their troubles on the military (even though as I said many times their drug use started before they were deployed). Never getting a second opinion from the 200 other members of the unit, in fact watching this film you would think they are fighting in Afghanistan by themselves as no single other soldier is ever even asked a question. Frankly the military had 1.5 million members, and choosing 3 who ended up getting kicked out causes for a severely biased documentary, and is in fact a slap in the face to the rest of the 200 plus people from their unit who managed to successfully complete their service without getting demoted or discharged.
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