“A decorated Marine officer unexpectedly returns home from the war and is quickly recruited to help a troubled teen prepare for boot camp, but when the true reasons for her return become known it threatens the future for both of them.
A MARINE STORY [Directed by Ned Farr] highlights the absurdity of the military ban on gays through the personal story of one courageous woman! (Official Website).
Danielle Riendeau rightly states that the film “deftly showcases the difficulties of women in the modern military, though the plot unfortunately goes AWOL toward the end.” Not only does the protagonist, Alex (played by Dreya Weber), undergo the homophobia of the U.S. military’s former Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, she also faces the sexism and ridicule often directed at female soldiers. At one point, Alex is told by a male character that “the strongest woman is equal to the weakest man” in an attempt to downplay her services to her country in the Marine Corps.
The film aptly portrays Alex’s coming out following her discharge from the military as a kind of witch hunt. She is aggressively pursued by small town/ small-minded men who feel emasculated by her physical strength. Her intimate sexual relations and innocent friendships with women are photographed, manipulated, and pasted wholesale around the town to expose her sexuality and the reasons behind her discharge.
The issue of rape is also dealt with in the film. It is a fact that many female soldiers are routinely subjected to sexual harassment and assault. In this film, it is the scorned man who photographs her that attempts to perform a corrective rape on Alex towards the end of the movie. It is also alluded that Alex was coerced into sleeping with one of her colleagues to quell the rumours about her sexuality.
Furthermore, A Marine Story sharply highlights the fact that more women than men were discharged from the military due to homosexual conduct. Alex’s husband, who we only meet briefly, turns out to be an in the closet Navy Seal; theirs is a marriage of convenience. Upon discovering the reasons for Alex’s discharge her husband tells her that he is going to have to bad-mouth her about his base in order to distance himself from her, and indeed his own, sexual orientation.
In all, A Marine Story is successful in demonstrating the complexity of women’s issues in the military. From sexuality to sexism, all difficulties are covered. Unfortunately, the plot veers off into a chaotic climax that is somewhat removed from the neatly handled story that is at the heart of the film. Thankfully, the acting is quite good and the relationships between the characters are believable. The film ends on the day that Obama signed DADT out of law in 2010, providing a bittersweet resolution to Alex’s story.