Cinema: Civil Actions

Ang Lee's gallant epic of love, war and lost youths

The fighting men of the Civil War, whether Blue or Gray, are recalled with sympathy, poignancy. They left their homes to fight in someone else's backyard for freedom or tradition. The truth, though, may be closer to the blind, bloody chaos depicted in Ang Lee's severe, handsomely rendered Ride with the Devil. In Border states like Missouri, a young man was at war not only with his brother but with his own best instincts as well.

Two Missouri bushwhackers, Jake Roedel (watchful Tobey Maguire) and Jack Bull Chiles (Skeet Ulrich, parading what may be star quality or merely attitude), start out...

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