In 2018, Jason Kander, a rising star in politics who was running for mayor of Kansas City, suddenly dropped out of the race, of which he was the front-runner. Kander, a veteran who had spent time as an Army intelligence officer in Afghanistan, announced that he would be seeking treatment for PTSD and depression.
He recalls the internal battle that roiled within him for over a decade in “Here. Is. Better.,” a documentary that follows four military veterans who each undergo different forms of PTSD treatment. Kander is the most high-profile subject of the film, and, consequently, the clearest example of one of its primary points: Those suffering from PTSD are often fighting a war that is invisible to both the general public and the sufferers themselves, who regularly struggle to believe they are worthy — or in need of — help.
Indeed, even as we see the film’s subjects describing and confronting horrific events, there is something painfully quiet about how the trauma looks from the outside. There are no breakdowns, exceptional stories or intensely dramatic moments (save for one visceral scene at a hockey game that the film does a disservice by overediting). Instead, the documentary, directed by Jack Youngelson, is about the slow, difficult work of reaching out, opening up and eventually finding a glimmer of hope, day by day.
In this sense, Youngelson’s film is not formally spectacular and doesn’t necessarily pack the showiest emotional wallop. But those traits likely make it truer to the lives of these veterans, as full of silent courage as they are of tragedy.
Here. Is. Better.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes. In theaters.