"Coming Home" is a romantic drama set in the Vietnam era, staring Jon Voight and Jane Fonda, both of whom won Academy Awards for their astounding performances in this profoundly moving 1978 film. It deals with love, heartache and the aftereffects of those who gave their all for their country in the Vietnam War, who now upon coming home have to live with the consequences.
In contrast to other films about the Vietnam War, "Coming Home" is in a league of its own, taking place on the home front versus the battlefield. The characters and emotions depicted are extremely well executed and the chemistry between Jon Voight and Jane Fonda is absolutely electric.
Sally Hyde (Jane Fonda) is a sheltered Army wife who is feeling isolated and helpless while her husband Captain Bob Hyde (Bruce Dern) enthusiastically is deployed to Vietnam. With her friends' encouragement, she starts volunteering as a nurse at a local veterans' hospital. There she re-meets Luke Martin (Jon Voight), an old high school acquaintance who has recently returned from his tour in Vietnam, who had left his home country as a patriotic Marine and returned incredibly bitter, unfortunately as a paraplegic.
As their friendship strengthens so does their sexual attraction, which continues on through Luke’s release from the hospital as he begins rebuilding his life from a wheelchair. Luke attempts to deal with his traumatic experiences and at the same time actively speak out against the Vietnam war. Sally’s character grows in leaps and bounds while she finds her real identity and emancipates herself from her previous life.
Vi Munson (Penelope Milford), Sally’s peace-loving friend and her shell-shocked brother Bill Munson (Robert Carradine) balance the leads with their equally harrowing plot line.
Sally's husband Bob eventually comes home traumatized by his own experiences in Vietnam and while his physical wound is superficial, he is a spiritually broken shell of man. All of his turmoil is compounded by what has happened at home in his absence. The story unfolds with unrelenting intensity through scenes that pull your heart strings on all levels.
This is a sensitive screenplay that introduces many sophisticated aspects of what real life can actually be like. It was one of the first films of its time to show non-able-bodied sex on screen and to show the overall price war plays on humanity. "Coming Home" may have been set in a Veteran Affairs hospital during the Vietnam War but it still has plenty of relevance to what is happening in our world today.