Coming Home is in general an excellent Hal Ashby film which illuminates the conflicting attitudes on the Vietnam debacle from the standpoint of three participants. Jerome Hellman’s fine production has Jane Fonda in another memorable and moving performance; Jon Voight, back on the screen much more matured, assured and effective; Bruce Dern, continuing to forge new career dimension.
Nancy Dowd’s story was adapted by Waldo Salt and former film editor Robert C. Jones into a home-front drama. Gung-ho Marine officer Dern goes to Vietnam while loyal wife Fonda decides to work in a veterans’ hospital where she meets high-school classmate Voight, now an embittered cripple from the war. Their lives become transformed completely.
Fonda and Ashby have reined in any tendencies to be smug or pedantic. Instead, she provides a superb characterization. Voight’s character evolves as he and Fonda become lovers. A sex scene between the two is a masterpiece of discreet romantic eroticism.
Dern’s character is the trigger for certain major events, but there remains enough exposure for him to be convincing as a career soldier disillusioned by Vietnam. Among the large supporting cast are Penelope Milford, excellent as another hospital worker keeping an eye on brother Robert Carradine, very effective as a pitiful, freaked-out and ultimately suicidal case.
1978: Best Actor (Jon Voight), Actress (Jane Fonda), Original Screenplay.
Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supp. Actor (Bruce Dern), Supp. Actress (Penelope Milford), Editing