Tigerland distinguishes itself by being a war movie that never reaches the conflict. The title refers to the final stage of boot camp for rural Louisianans in 1971. Psychological tolls that begin well before the young men embark on their tours of duty are this film's concern. Rugged, handheld camerawork and undiscovered actors impart an arthouse feel often at odds with the direction.
From St.Elmo's Fire to Falling Down to 8MM, director Joel Schumacher has had a schmaltzy, intriguing career. Tigerland displays his concerted effort to make smaller movies, going so far as to cast a generally unknown Irish actor in the lead role of boot-camp contrarian Raymond Bozz. Bozz (Colin Farrell) helps other men get out of the army, swaggering against cruel captains with humor and pacifist philosophy. Original depictions of mental duress compete with Schumacher's default mode: heavy-handed Hollywood drama. If Tigerland is indeed a transition, then it should be fascinating to see where Schumacher goes next.