On the fourth of July 1999, just after the installment of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Barry Winchell, a soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, was brutally murdered by a fellow GI. It is rare and beautiful when a filmmaker can take a disturbing true-life headline and convert it into a cinematic experience rich with pathos and poignancy. Such is the case in Soldier’s Girl.
What really happened to Barry Winchell was simple—he fell in love. On an outing with his buddies, he was captivated by the beautiful Calpernia Adams, a transgendered entertainer in a local Nashville nightclub.
Director Frank Pierson incorporates incomparable integrity into this true story. Ron Nyswaner’s tender script comes to life in the voices of the oddly matched lovers. The superb Troy Garity is the unsophisticated loner, and fantastic Lee Pace the beautifully sexy singer. Shawn Hatosy, as the off-balance, pharmaceutically dependent roommate, is chillingly believable, representing the darker side of military dysfunction.
There is rarely any meaning in this kind of atrocity. One can only hope for the truth. In Soldier’s Girl, the truth is told by clearly focusing on the love shared by these two individuals. –Sundance Film Festival
A former Time magazine correspondent, Frank Pierson began his screen career as a story editor (and later producer-director) on the popular CBS TV series “Have Gun Will Travel” in the early 1960s. He also wrote for “Studio One”, “Alcoa Goodyear Theater”, “Route 66” and “Naked City” during the so-called ‘Golden Age of Television’.
Pierson’s first feature screenplay as co-writer was for “Cat Ballou” (1965) which earned him an Oscar nomination, and he won the award for his finely observed solo script for Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975). Other collaborations includes the classic individual-against-the-unjust-prison-system drama, “Cool Hand Luke” (1967, which also netted him an Oscar nod), as well as adaptations of Scott Turow’s bestseller “Presumed Innocent” (1990) and Bobbie Ann Mason’s novel “In Country” (1989).
Pierson made his feature directorial debut with “The Looking Glass War” (1970) and subsequently helmed the 1976 Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson remake… read more
Although it never quite escapes its low budget, made-for-tv aesthetic (if only they got financial backing to expand this into a feature), this is an genuinely powerful and tragic love story. Two incredible leads with an intense chemistry that the filmmakers do not flinch from. Lee Pace is mesmerizing!