Hot Docs 2018: ‘First Stripes’

Jean-François Caissy’s look into the Canadian Armed Forces’ intensive training program is a slice-of-life style treat for those especially interested in modern military training practices.  First Stripes follows a 12-week course in French Canada, from the time recruits are being told the rules of the facility and getting in shape to performing mission simulations and learning how to use their weapons.

We don’t really stay with any of the soldiers long enough to invest in their story or arc as individuals (which is maybe part of the point), and for this reason it feels like the movie is more focused on the ins and outs of the training itself, rather than the people going through it.  Yes, there are moments of personality here and there, but they are few and far between amid the cold mechanics of daily military life.

While it’s kind of neat to see what training programs look like in the modern age, this documentary is too long with too little payoff.  Detailed and drawn out, First Stripes can really only be recommended in good conscience to someone with an established passion for the military.

– Jessica Goddard 


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