I weep for humanity. Occasionally I get to see films that remind me of the fact that we live in cruel world filled with monsters. Monsters who don't recognize the miracle of love - who are too blind and stupid to realize that this miracle doesn't just happen between people of two different genders. If I were to make a list of things that make cry and scream in anger at the same time, homophobia would be at the very top of the list.
The reason for the horrible "faggot" remark and eventually a crime was that Winchell was dating transgender night club performer - Calpernia Addams. The rumors - spread by Fisher - about the couple reached Winchell's unit. That's when the remarks and the harassment began. Despite the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, one of Winchell's superior officers was asking questions about the club where Winchell met Addams, causing the atmosphere to become even more aggravated.
Soldier's Girl is Showtime TV movie, nominated for 3 Golden Globes. It also appeared on AFI's top 10 TV programs in 2003. It's certainly worthy of all the accolades - it's a brave, moving film that is destined to move and horrify you. The thing I liked the most about it was how much depth was given to the characters - none of the people we see here is one dimensional, they are people battling with something, people with deep issues that are desperate to find some help and happiness.
That's true for the villains of the story as well - Fisher was a man with clear issues. At one point Calpernia suggests that he is attracted to Berry. Fisher was acting like a friend at one point, only to spread rumors about Berry in another. The film shows that he didn't meant for Glover to kill Barry and then it shows that he clearly refuses to take any responsibility for what happened, though it's clear it was his fault too - without his remarks, rumors and actions it would not have happened. As for Glover, he was a young guy with tremendous anger problems. The fact that both of them were drunk only fueled their anger and led to the unimaginable crime.
The love story between Barry and Calpernia is at the very core of the movie and it's beautifully shown. They meet in the club where Berry is dared by Fisher to find out whether Calpernia is a woman or not. Barry doesn't seem to care about that and he treats Calpernia like he would treat a lady. He asks her for her phone number and soon the two begin to date. Though at times it is clear Barry is very confused and he doesn't really know what he is doing and why - it is always clear that she makes him happy. What's interesting is that in Calpernia's former life, when she was called Scottie, she was actually in the navy. She's knows military life and she is able to relate to Berry and help him. Troy Garity who portrays Barry did an amazing job - he truly makes you feel for his character and hope for happiness for him. Happiness he never had a chance of getting, at least not for long.
What really destroyed me was the scene of the murder. It is very graphic and genuinely painful to witness. The fact that Barry didn't die right away makes it all even worse. The scene plays out as Calpernia is competing in a pageant at the club where she is lip syncing the song - the score to the movie is incredible and tragically ironic at many times. It's one of the most shocking and emotionally affecting murder scenes I've seen in a while. In the aftermath we watch reenactments of real testimonies. When Barry's commanding officer, the one who was determined to find out whether he was gay or not, says Barry's death is like "death in the family" I felt nauseous.
This film is often compared to Boys Don't Cry and for good reasons too - both films deal with the subject of heinous hate crime that happened in reality and they show two people who found each other and found happiness together, in spite of everything that stood in their way. But unfortunately, in both of those stories the four most dangerous things hiding in human beings - stupidity, ignorance, jealousy and cruelty - won in the end.
Soldier's Girl (2003, 112 min)
Plot: Barry is a private with the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Calpernia works as a showgirl at a transgender revue in Nashville, Tennessee when the two met in 1999. Barry's roommate Justin Fisher (Shawn Hatosy) brings Barry to the club where she performs. When Barry and Calpernia begin seeing each other regularly, Fisher begins spreading rumors on base about their relationship, which appeared to be a violation of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy about discussing the sexual orientation of military personnel.
Director: Frank Pierson
Writer: Ron Nyswaner
Stars: Troy Garity, Lee Pace and Andre Braugher