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Fresh from saving humanity in Interstellar, Anne Hathaway takes a turn as a female fighter pilot in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. With a drawling Wyoming accent and a titanium backbone, her character is as tough as it comes. That is, until life intervenes.

Julie Taymor designed a set consisting of nothing but a carpet of sand. All the theatrical magic digitally projects onto the faux desert at the Public Theatre. Anne Hathaway is alone on stage for the entire 75 minutes of the show.

On leave, Anne’s character meets the love of her life at a bar, gets pregnant, gets married, and gets grounded. No longer able to fly F-15s, she is recruited to the “chair force” of drone pilots. Relocated from the Iraqi desert to the Nevada desert, she at first reluctantly and then with characteristic zeal settles into the role of avenging god of war in the air. But as she is assigned to follow an enemy leader day after day, the fog of war thickens and messes with her psyche.

“Grounded” is the “Apocalypse Now” of this generation: part video game, part morality tale. Like “American Sniper,” it admires the dedication of the new American warrior, but also depicts the awful price that war exacts on those who wage it.

Phil Neches


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