ROGEREBERT.COM: Mending the Line
June 9, 2023
“There’s more great literature written about fly fishing than any other sport.”
This line comes early on in "Mending the Line," and it really is so true! Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It is probably the most famous example, but there are libraries more. Why this might be is an interesting question, and why fly fishing inspires such passionate advocates is another. "Mending the Line," sensitively directed by Joshua Caldwell and written by Stephen Camelio, tells the story of two men, one old (Brian Cox), and one young (Sinqua Walls), who are veterans of two different wars. They find healing for their combat traumas, physical and emotional, in fly fishing and in their unlikely friendship....
Fly fishing as therapy for PTSD is a "thing" now; its popularity among veterans growing—and research supports the anecdotal. Fly fishing clubs for veterans have sprouted up everywhere in the country. It's very moving to see photos of all the real veterans fly fishing underneath the end credits. "Mending the Line" is the first film to explicitly address this new and innovative treatment, showing it as a potential therapy for those who suffer in silence. Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre's 2019 film "The Mustang" showed a prison program where convicts work with wild mustangs as therapy to manage the uncontrollable rage that has ruined their lives. "The Mustang" was a little bit harder-hitting than "Mending the Line," but, for the most part, "Mending the Line" conveys its message well. It could point people who are hurting in a new and surprising direction, maybe even leading to a way out.