SYNOPSIS of THE LONG WALK
A figure runs along the Niagara River in Buffalo, New York. It is Brian Castner, a former Explosive Ordnance Disposal Captain in the U.S. Air Force. As he runs, he is haunted by memories of Iraq. Brian’s wife, Jessie, recalls her grandmother’s prophecy: even if her husband returns from combat, the war will no doubt kill him at home. At dinner with his family, Brian is besieged by another memory of Iraq, imagining that soldiers are invading the Castner family kitchen. Brian’s son Martin asks his father to read him a bedtime story. Later that night, Brian wakes in terror, and Jessie urges him to get help. The next morning, Brian struggles to get the kids ready for school. Longing to escape the challenges of the everyday, Brian flashes back to his Explosive Ordnance (EOD) training prior to his service in Iraq, and the brotherhood he found there, “the Brotherhood of the Crab.” That afternoon, at his son’s seventh birthday party, Jessie urges Brian to try to be present for the sake of the children. Brian struggles to connect with what’s happening all around him, and to remember minute details of his family’s past, and fails. He retreats to the garage, where he attempts to arm the family minivan in order to keep his boys safe on their way to school. His son Martin finds him there. Brian takes off, attempting to outrun “the Crazy,” but is assaulted by a barrage of memories of Iraq, culminating in the moment he came close to shooting a cluster of keening Iraqi women. When the memories fade away, he finds himself back at home, staring into the mirror. He mounts the stairs and then sits, rifle in hands, guarding his sleeping boys.
Jessie appeals to Brian to seek help, giving him an ultimatum of sorts. Brian descends into another horrific memory of Iraq, one which persuaded him to go home. Brian visits a shrink at the VA, who gives him a diagnosis. Later, at the funeral of a fallen EOD man, Jessie mourns the loss of the man she married. Back at home, the boys sing about their father. The Shrink asks Brian: Why is the war still in your house? At a yoga class for veterans, Brian, faced with yet another Iraq memory, manages to remain in the present. Some time later, Jessie and the boys are playing before Brian’s return from a trip. He panics at the airport and phones Jessie, who talks him down. Brian asks her to remind him of details of the family life he’s forgotten. They connect over their shared past. The Shrink tells Brian he’s making progress. Brian accompanies his son to the Mite Hockey championship. Seeing his son suiting up, he breaks down, flashing back to the memory of one of his “brothers” suiting up to take the Long Walk. He then has another flashback: The men in their humvee returning from a mission before dawn. A pigeon lands on the humvee. Back in Buffalo, Brian runs along the Niagara River, through memories of war and present moments of peace, past his EOD brothers, towards his wife and children, and on, into the future.