Review: The Ground Truth

As a polemic, Patricia Foulkrod’s documentary has the urgency of stray sniper fire.

The Ground Truth
Photo: Focus Features

Rockmond Dunbar’s C-Note gets to the essence of The Ground Truth in a recent episode of Prison Break. On the phone to his wife, who questions whether her husband was ever in the military, the former army man bitterly replies, “I served my country and my country served me up.” Patricia Foulkrod’s documentary is barely a work of art, visually unseemly and struggling for a significant through line, but as a polemic it has the urgency of stray sniper fire. Which is to say the film is dangerous, but to whom? Foulkrod doesn’t settle for the shrill guttersnipping of Michael Moore, going beyond how the military callously seduces poor and minority people with romantic visions of war, countering the twisted neocon pathology of the White House that the costs of war—like the coffins of our dead soldiers—don’t exist if we cannot see them. She accomplishes this through stinging interviews from our maimed soldiers, who reveal how our military camps have essentially become breeding grounds for war criminals. It is there that racism is used to dehumanize the enemy and soldier alike, the nonexistent links between Iraq and 9/11 are used to fuel animosity, and violence against innocent people is encouraged by commanding officers. But the worst of it is that when our soldiers return to this country plagued with post-traumatic syndrome, they are disregarded by the very machine that created them. Foulkrod rarely stays on point but reveals, with arms flailing, that the military’s abuse of our soldiers constitutes a colossal and irresponsible failure of compassion.

 Cast: Robert Acosta, Charles Anderson, Aidan Delgado, Kelly Dougherty, Sean Huze, Denver Jones, Demond Mullins, Perry O'Brien, Paul Rieckhoff  Director: Patricia Foulkrod  Distributor: Focus Features  Running Time: 80 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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