I don’t care for most of the metaphysics, such as they are, in George Roy Hill’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), based on the unread-by-me Kurt Vonnegut novel. Surprisingly, though, some of them I do like. (Are human beings right to believe they possess genuinely FREE will?)
Be that as it may, the virtues in this outre movie are multiple. Hill has his heart in it; his brain too. I don’t know just how versatile an actor Michael Sacks is, but he enacts a maturing innocent, Billy Pilgrim, at various stages of his life knowingly and winningly. Ron Liebman is deep and true as a troubled creep, while Sharon Gans is a passionate non-caricature as the silly Valencia Pilgrim. Also first-rate are the touching Eugene Roche as a decent conservative man and soldier and the enchanting Valerie Perrine as a movie starlet.
It’s difficult to know what the film is ultimately about, particularly since it seems to regard World War II as being without a purpose (Alfred Kazin’s complaint about the novel). But it’s otherwise impressively honest and occasionally darkly funny.