Well actually, more of a Q&A after the film at the Arclight cinema in Hollywood. After the 113 minute movie, Kimberly Peirce, writer and director of Stop-Loss, and director of the brutally honest (and slightly traumatic) Boys Don't Cry, was on hand to give a few insights about how the film came into existence and answer some questions from the cinema audience.
Before we get into what Kimberly said, I thought the actual film itself was amazing. The story is about a group of U.S. soldiers who've just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, so it's quite a sensitive subject matter (and it felt strange watching it in an American cinema where I'm sure feeling over the Iraq war or invasion, or whatever you call it, is split what with the audience probably having friends or relatives directly affected by the war).
The film's title, Stop-Loss, comes from what happens when Ryan Phillippe's character thinks he's served his time and done his duty and is then ordered to return to Iraq for another tour, he's stop-lossed. So he goes AWOL, as he feels he's fulfilled his contract and after experiencing everything he has, he feels he can't take any more.
It's not a film you can say you 'enjoyed', because the subject matter is so emotive, but I thought it was moving and powerful, with a great performance by the totally underrated and very hot, Ryan Phillippe (Crash, Cruel Intentions, Gosford Park, 54).
He's joined by relative newcomer, Channing Tatum (Step Up), quite a big, hunky guy who the director described as her 'Man-imal', Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, Mysterious Skin - not an alien abduction film, but in fact a film about pedophilia - sorry again Hannah! - and all 133 TV episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun - he's one of those guys you recognise when you're watching a film, but can't place, but then when you do you go "aah, so that's who you are!") and lead female, Abbie Cornish (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).
Stop-Loss follows the soldiers as they try to return to their normal lives and families and highlights how hard it is for them to reintegrate into society.
In the Q&A after the film, the director let us know that the film originally started out as a documentary and through the involvement of her 'baby brother' in the war, she'd toured the U.S. interviewing the family (mothers, wives, fathers) and returning veteran soldiers. She'd seen real life footage taken by the soldiers and edited by them into mini-movies of their experiences, brought back by her brother, and there are some of these actually incorporated into the film to add to the realism.
Her decision to change from a documentary to a film, was to allow us to be immersed in the story and to experience everything at the same time as the characters, rather than to hear a story related in the past tense, as overall she's driven by character and story.
I'd definitely give the film 4 stars **** and I can't wait to go the the Arclight cinema again.
Being in Hollywood I'm told the Arclight cinema hosts quite a lot of these Q&A events and special screenings (there's another one in Sherman Oaks). It also helps that the cinema is eye-catchingly designed, has excellent seating, screen and sound system and a cafe bar where you can get a bite to eat before the movie (which we did) and fantastically they factor in what time your screening is when they are serving you.
So as you can imagine, I can't wait to become a member, as I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of time there in the future.