Blood Stripe is a slow burn of a film that needs multiple viewings to be fully appreciated.
At first glance it tells the story of a returning female soldier (co-writer Kate Nowlin in a breakout performance) coming to terms with normal life. But there is so much more going on within the film as the audience watches Nowlin on her journey that it is easy to dismiss at first.
“I think the movie is a mediation on vigilance and trauma,” Nowlin tells Press Pass LA “I brought some of my own experiences to it and we did a lot of research into the PTSD of returning veterans are going through and it’s pretty erratic sometimes.” Nowlin brings a quiet rage to her role and an authenticity that, had she lacked, would have destroyed the movie.
Along the way Kate’s unnamed soldier, known only as Our Sargent, attempts to find solace at her roots by returning to the camp she stayed at as a child. Once there she finds quick employment as a kind of groundskeeper using the work to keep herself balanced and sane. This venture means she must once again abandon her husband Rusty (Chris Sullivan) while she deals with her own issues of pain, loneliness and rage.
Director Remy Auberjonois hammers out that struggle with the stark rural landscapes of the North Woods. Typically quiet territory to begin with the wide open trees and water are at once both inviting and claustrophobic. Though this is his first feature Auberjonois seems to be taking inspiration from Terrence Malick. There aren’t very many filmmakers that can make that work but the context of the story helps immensely.
Blood Stripe made its premiere last night at the Los Angeles film festival and will have another screening on June 7th.