‘Fort Bliss’ Spotlights The Daily Struggles of Military Life

Michelle Monaghan delivers one of her finest performances in Fort Bliss, a drama about a single mom and U.S. Army medic (Monaghan) who is trying to reconnect with her five-year-old son. Her commitment to her job and country has led to an extended tour of duty in Afghanistan, and though absolutely commendable and downright honorable, her sacrifice has wreaked havoc on her personal life.

Directed and penned by Claudia Myers, Fort Bliss takes an even eyed look at Maggie Swann’s (Monaghan) difficulties at adjusting to civilian life as well as reconciling that another deployment is on the horizon. Fort Bliss also features a stellar supporting cast that (including Ron Livingston, Emmanuelle Chriqui, John Savage, and Gbenga Akinnagbe) gives the narrative an added level of creative gravitas.

The film’s anchor, however, lies in its ability in portraying military life in a realistic fashion.  “The idea of being believable as a soldier for me, is incredibly daunting,” says Monaghan, whose previous credits include HBO’s True Detective and Trucker.  “We took every action we could to ensure that we did the best that we could and make it as truthful (as possible) and from a soldier’s perspective.”

Michelle Monaghan in Fort Bliss - Phase 4 Films, CR: Facebook
Michelle Monaghan in Fort Bliss – Phase 4 Films, CR: Facebook

In the following audio clip, Michelle Monaghan talks about receiving feedback from military vets and their families on Fort Bliss, which won Best Narrative Feature at the GI Film Festival.

Fort Bliss is now playing in New York and Los Angeles and is also available on VOD.

Michelle Monaghan Explores Military Life With Resonant “Fort Bliss”

Opening in theaters and VOD September 19, Fort Bliss centers on Maggie Swann (Michelle Monaghan), a dedicated U.S. Army medic who returns home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Although Maggie puts her life on the line for her country, her honorable sacrifice comes at a huge price when she must slowly regain her 5-year-old son’s (Oakes Fegley) trust and love.  Lending solid support is Ron Livingston, who co-stars as the son’s father, with Emmanuelle Chriqui playing Livingston’s girlfriend.

Fort Bliss

“It’s such a collaborative experience that everyone has when you’re doing an independent film,” said Monaghan. “Because they’re so hard to get made. It’s a very inclusive process – everybody’s position is embraced.”

During this week’s Fort Bliss interviews, I asked Michelle Monaghan how she is able to bring a seamless, emotional access to her roles (for proof, check out her standout performances in Trucker, True Detective, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Balancing studio driven films and indie projects has been a staple in Monaghan’s career, and although I’m more than happy to watch escapist fare such as  Mission: Impossible III and Eagle Eye, the character driven stuff resonates on a much different level.

Here’s Monaghan’s response to my question:

“I just say it’s being present. I feel grounded. I’m the most emotionally honest when a character feels very real to me. It’s somebody next door. It’s somebody’s sister or mother or wife…it’s a total testament to the writing and the material that’s been given to me.”

Monaghan’s complete answer, in which she also praises Fort Bliss writer/director Claudia Myers, can be heard in the following audio clip: