Written By: Sarah Gates
MilSpouse Life On the Big Screen
Pans clang together and a cabinet door bangs shut as the food sizzles on the stove. The phone rings and as she answers, the kids, of course, choose that moment to start shouting at each other.
She makes her best attempt to have a conversation despite the chaos around her. She desperately wants to talk with him. He’s been gone so long and the distance between them is beginning to be more than just the miles apart.
But in the end, it’s all just too much- the food, the kids, and the awkward delay. With a sharpness in her voice that every tired and stressed mom knows well, she says “I can’t talk right now”. They hang up, both of them feeling even more tense and frustrated than they did before their brief conversation.
As I watched this scene from the new film, Indivisible, play out on the screen in front of me, I felt as though I were watching a scene from my own life. I have lived that exact moment on more than one occasion while my own husband was deployed or gone for training of some sort. In fact, there were multiple moments like that during the movie. Moments I’ve lived, moments that were my life as a military spouse right there on the screen.
It didn’t take long for me to realize, this is not just another war movie. It’s about so much more.
Based on a True Story
Indivisible is based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner and his wife Heather. It shows their battles both in Iraq and back in their own home. It shows the struggle that reintegration can be after the picture-perfect homecoming and what it looks like to fight together for your marriage instead of fighting against each other.
This film is unique because it is the first ever military film based on someone who is still currently serving on active duty.
The cast includes well-known actors like Grey’s Anatomy’s Sarah Drew and Justin Bruening, as well as Tia Mowry of Sister, Sister fame.
Sarah Drew not only starred in the movie, but also was one of the Executive Producers and she has assembled a very special cast. Several of the film’s stars are either veteran’s themselves or grew up as military kids. In fact, Samara Lee, who plays Darren and Heather’s daughter in the movie, has a real-life dad who is currently serving in the Army and was recently deployed.
I had the privilege to attend an advance screening of Indivisible while at the Military Influencer Conference in Orlando, FL last month. Prior to the night of the screening, I had seen the trailer for the film going around and was looking forward to watching it. The big question was, would it live up to all the hype?
What They Got Right
When sitting down to watch a military movie or TV show, our family, and most other military families I know, are quick to critique all the things that aren’t right. While I won’t claim that every single thing was accurate in this production, there were no glaring mistakes that caught my eye, except maybe that the base housing looked almost too nice to be legit.
There were some small touches, like the addition of a deployment countdown calendar in Heather and Darren’s home, which added to the show’s authenticity.
The filmmakers also got some big things right, that I think many military spouses will relate to, like:
– Giving birth without your husband beside you
– Feeling overwhelmed and alone
– Relying on strong friendships to get you through the tough times
– Struggling with reintegration
– Feeling distant from your spouse
– Learning to be independent and handle things on your own
Marriage is hard. Military marriage is especially hard. Whether your spouse struggles with PTSD the way Darren did or not, frequent moves, deployments, and learning to live together again as a family are challenges we all go through and they take a toll on our relationships. This film does not sugar coat that.
At one point after Darren came home, Heather says to him, “Go ahead. Walk away. I’ve been doing just fine on my own for seventeen months.” Although I’m not proud to admit this, for me that was another point in the movie where I thought “This is so spot on.” I have said nearly those same words before.
Except I might have told my husband to “just get back on the ship already”. But you know, basically the same.
The Bottom Line
Is this movie going to win any Oscars? Probably not. But is it worth watching? Absolutely. It’s extremely relevant. It’s a great conversation starter for military couples who watch the film together as they see, perhaps for the first time, what deployment was actually like for the other person.
It’s also eye-opening for those not in the military to get a glimpse of what life is like for the whole military family, not just the service member. It may even allow them not just to appreciate those who serve, but to better understand the full extent of what that service means.
This is not just another war movie. It’s a beautiful story of redemption. It’s a reminder that as the real life Heather Turner says, “A broken marriage is not a failed marriage”. With God’s help, there can be restoration and reconciliation. This is a message that many of our marriages, military or not, desperately need.
Sarah Drew says, “Even if you go to the depths of despair, there is hope”. And sometimes, that little bit of hope is all we need to keep going.
Have you seen the movie yet? Comment below and let us know what you thought!