One actor, taking on two different roles within a year of each other. Both roles drastically different from one another while addressing similar personal traumas.
Stop-loss and The Look Out -- two films about the effects of brain injury and devastating ways it effects the person and the ones they love.
Stop-Loss is a military film about President Bush's "stop loss" program of military personal during times of war. It's a film that carries a back story of one of the young men they brought home, Tommy(JGL). With the horrors of a last mission and friend they couldn't save still in his head, Tommy has come home with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. His life, his marriage, everything he knows comes unraveled as his own behavior becomes erratic, unstable. The conclusion of this sub plot was painfully expected and still, not any less devastating because "you saw it coming." Lives were changed forever, regrets now a constant companion. For the hero of the story it was the exclamation point to his struggle. He was fighting a loosing battle against stop-loss and there would be no happy ending. This was not a movie about Tommy, not a staring role, but his influence on the rest of the characters was profound.
The Look Out was a film with a different message, with a different set of circumstances. It was not military heroics which took the staring life that was Christ Pratt(JGL). It was a stupid high school game on a dark road, resulting in the permanent disfigurement of the girl he had wanted and the death of two friends. His brain injured in the car wreck that could have claimed his life, all of Pratt's former glory on the hockey ice is gone. He works at a dead end job with a pad of paper in his pocket to help him remember to "Get up, take shower, with soap ..." He lives with his mentor Lewis (Jeff Daniels), gives up contact with a family forever disappointed in his mistake and he goes to school to relearn what he can never have again. It's not enough and he longs for more. When petty thugs ask him to be their look out at the bank where he is a janitor he grabs for the chance ... until he realizes he never really had a choice at all.
Two movies completely different, one a political thriller challenging and succumbing to a no win scenario; the other about a kid making bad decisions as he tries to grab onto the glory he used to be: "You're Chris Pratt," he gets told. "I was three years ahead of you and even I looked up to you."
Both parts taken on by a talented actor who became two separate men with minds in need of attention, affection, understanding and a chance to move forward. One made it. One didn't.
Still, even with sorrow, great watches on both movies.