By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated December 13, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Movie

The War at Home, a relentlessly depressing, stagey drama starring and directed by Emilio Estevez is really two stories in one. The first is about the misery of one shell-shocked Vietnam veteran (Estevez) trying to find his place back in civilian life in Texas, 1972. The second reflects the misery of one uptight family that probably would have imploded even if the son hadn’t returned from the war harboring fantasies of shooting his father in the head. (That the actor-director’s own father, Martin Sheen, plays the role of paterfamilias is just more grist for the Oedipal mill.) The Vietnam-flashback material doesn’t resonate as sharply as it did when screenwriter James Duff first presented this as a stage play in 1984. But with Sheen doing a nice turn as a bewildered Dad and Kathy Bates such a nerve-rattling force as the kill-em-with-cleanliness mother, the agonized family dynamics are effectively awful. B-

The War at Home

  • Movie
  • R
  • 119 minutes
  • Emilio Estevez