YANKS -- AMC Carrollton, Outer Circle, Roth's Manor, Roth's Tysons Corner, Roth's Seven Locks, Springfield Mall Cinema.
Surely the mildest case of cultural shock on record is that between the American soldiers in wartime England and the rural English in whose town they are billeted, as shown in the film "Yanks."
This is not a war picture. The war seems far off, merely an agent for getting young men off camera and on. No one worries much about it, in fact, the only war casualty is a young man obviously destined to be a dramatic casualty anyway, because his girl has fallen in love with someone else but is too noble to leave him. This is a well-known cause of sudden, early death even in peacetime.
What it deals with, instead, is how the presence of so many soldiers affects village life. And that turns out to be exactly what you would expect.
An attempt is made to suggest that there are cultural clashes between the English and American ways of life, but these are treated with fond blandness and clouded by the heavy nostalgia that is the film's style. The Americans' inability to understand the English taste for tea and tradition thus comes out as equivalent to a British distaste for violent racism among the Americans.
Nevertheless, it is an appealing picture because of the faces: many, many, faces of saucy and spunky people wisecracking their way through the discomforts of life.
Three romances are shown, each unexpectedly sweet. There is Vanessa Redgrave as a gangly aristocratic lady who plays the cello and momentarily unbends to the importunings of a little diamond-in-the-rough officer, played by William Devane; Richard Gere and Lisa Eichhorn as the soupily romantic Anglo-American couple of films of the period, but with such additional troubles as impotence and doubt; and Chick Vennera and Wendy Morgan as two tough-cookie types who develop an apparently substantial bond.
The dialogue is in cliches of the period: "They're only lads, thousands of miles from home." "Don't you ever think about anything else?" "Sure you're special -- everyone is special." "Where would we have been if we'd been realistic?" and "But are you happy?" Come to think of it, most are cliches of this period, too, but here, because of the film's sense of distance, they are pleasant, like old songs from a period we like to remember as heroic and jolly.