here sure aren’t many films better putting themselves across than Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder and conveying the idea of internal turmoil. Some events and experiences leave indelible scars that lie at the root of incessant tribulations and war, no doubt, is chief among them.
The protagonist, as the name implies, is Jacob, a war vet who takes a stab at rebuilding his life from the ground up following the experience of war, the parting of the ways with his ex-wife, and the death of one of his sons. Presently, he lives with Jezzie, a work colleague, and the outset of the movie points out a still unshaken equilibrium with the lovebirds as the focal point. Sooner rather than later though, nightmares start haunting his sleep and before long hallucinations find their way in his colorless life as well. As pressure builds up, Jacob’s mental stability seems to crumble and he loses in dribs and drabs his grip on sanity. We better understand the protagonist’s drama through sporadic flashbacks that give us an insight into his repressed memories. We thereby see poignant Vietnam scenes imbued with horror and grief and Jacob getting away by the skin of his teeth. As the past bedevils his dreams and he becomes slightly paranoid, he seeks out his doctor who, as he finds out, died in a car explosion. The movie thus constitutes a heart-breaking cry for help of a soul all-alone slowly descending into madness. A soul trapped between life and death, a place where “it’s all pain”.
Besides the war memories, flashbacks disclose one or two moments amid his former family and stress Jacob’s regrets as to the way things fell out. As he meets a former war comrade and learns he’s been experiencing the same thing, he starts believing the army has a hand in it all.