Biloxi Blues

Biloxi Blues


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Biloxi, Mississippi: it runs off the tongue like a blues riff and yet for Northern rookies, all white and talking tough, it is boot camp hell in 1945.

Mike Nichols's film of Neil Simon's play, the second part of his autobiography, concentrates on the survival techniques of young guys, away from home for the first time, mostly ignorant, usually afraid, talking the talk to disguise social limitations.

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It is a story of growing up, changing, learning to understand the eccentricities of bigoted bullies, introspective intellectuals, closet coves and a sergeant with a hole in his head. Strange people in a stranger environment have one thing in common; they hate being there.

Nichols shields the shock with pale greys and muted sunlight. The feeling of nostalgia is like the scent of apple blossom on a warm breeze and the sweetness of that first trip to town, Eugene's "perfect day," when he finds love and discovers sex, tastes just fine.

Sharp writing and superb performances avoid stereotypes. Matthew Broderick, as Eugene, perfectly matches sensitivity with a dogged determination not to be smashed by the system.

"Dying makes a man of you," he jokes. No one's laughing.

In the end, with the war over and training finished, Eugene thinks, "I liked it because I was young."

Neither Nichols, nor Simon, mock the innocence of these half-baked soldiers. They celebrate and honour their humour and their style. They tell the truth.

Reviewed on: 28 Nov 2004
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Biloxi Blues packshot
Neil Simon remembers boot camp in Mississippi during the last months of the war.
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Director: Mike Nichols

Writer: Neil Simon, based on the play by Neil Simon

Starring: Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken, Matt Mulhern, Corey Parker, Casey Siemaszko, Michael Dolan, Penelope Ann Miller, Park Overall, Alan Pottinger

Year: 1988

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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