In this new film from writer/director Jeff London, a gay single man (Tyler Haines as David) wants to find renewed purpose in his life, but he obviously wants more than just a relationship or a career, and even his ongoing work as a self-employed carpenter no longer seems to satisfy him. Part of him wants to help his cousin Buck (Zac Titus), but he realizes he must start with research, because Buck is an Iraqi war veteran with serious physical and mental injuries.
Though all of the actors play their parts well, Titus gives the most interesting performance, probably because of the demanding role. He must convey a constant mixture of courage, fear, pain, hope, and frustration. Besides suffering from migraines, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and an inability to use his legs, Buck tries to justify his reasons for serving as a U. S. Marine and to understand why many people now seem to reject him.
Robert Sisko plays Buck’s alcoholic and homophobic father, not wanting his injured son to move in with a gay cousin. However, we eventually see him as a much more complex and caring man than the one we initially meet in a smoky living room.
Brent King (from Jeff London’s Arizona Sky) and Landon Ashworth (from the miniseries John Adams) play David’s close friends. However, both men sometimes question his decisions and his need for big changes in his life.
Mark Krench provides an original soundtrack. His music adds emotional depth to some of the many quiet scenes, but never drowns out the dialogue in the conversation scenes.
Though I loved the overall movie, the dinner gathering near the end becomes way too forced and preachy, with the characters debating the movie’s themes. The rest of the movie looks at the human impact of controversial issues, but this part brings them back to just issues, and seems more like a staged political debate than a part of a dramatic presentation. Worse yet, the only character who opposes our second Iraqi war comes across as shallow, ignorant, and insensitive. I think this scene will only alienate and anger many of the people this film tries to reach, which defeats the purpose.
I like that Jeff London’s movies all differ greatly from each other, from coming out stories, to romance, to horror. However, most of his films involve themes of family in some way. This movie starts with questions about the responsibilities of family, eventually expanding those responsibilities to a larger sense of family. So besides some touchy contemporary issues, A Warm Wind also explores universal questions that any viewers can relate to their lives.
Regardless of one’s opinions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or about our treatment of veterans, I think A Warm Wind will provoke discussions of important issues. It also will touch many viewers with its dramatic performances.
The DVD also includes a short feature with Full Metal Jacket actor Kevyn Major Howard discussing his special project to honor veterans and 911 victims. Howard also interviews Zac Titus during the feature, both because of A Warm Wind and because Titus lost his sister on 911.