“An Officer and a Gentleman” is a military movie wrapped around a love story. It’s about a social drop out who enlists in the Navy’s Officer Training program and unwillingly falls in love with one of the nearby town’s girls. The trainee is Sean Mayo (Richard Gere) and the girl is Paula (Debra Winger). Also with them is the hard ass drill instructor played by Lou Gosset, Jr. His role in this won him a well deserved Academy Award.
The film follows two paralleling stories. One is about Mayo’s training and his confliction with Gosset’s character. The other is about Mayo’s and Paula’s relationship and the real growth it goes through to find love. Both, however, feature Mayo’s transformation from a selfish, hustling punk, to a strong and caring leader. The acting was key for this to work, and it does. These stories are about relationships, and that requires great chemistry between the actors. They all deliver it flawlessly. We get to understand their motives and reactions so that when everything comes together at the end, we are left with a feeling of closure and happiness for these characters.
Something else that I really enjoyed about “An Officer and a Gentleman” was its depiction of life near the Naval base. The women in the town seemed to be bred for one reason: to marry a naval officer and move out of their working class lives. They’ll do whatever they can to do so, such as getting pregnant or even faking it, thereby trapping the candidates in a corner that marriage is the only way out. There seem to be two generations of these women: the young girls looking to bag a candidate and their mothers, who have tried but failed, and have been left behind heartbroken.
Women will love “An Officer and a Gentleman” for the pure love aspect. You’ll find yourselves applauding about how Richard Gere sweeps Debra Winger off of her feet at that sequence at the end of the movie when that “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong” song is played. Guys, you’ll get a kick out of the extremely bad ass training experience we watch Mayo go through. The best part is the fight between Gosset and Gere in the hangar (if you’ve seen it before, then you know that horrible feeling you get when you see the infamous shot of the drill instructor’s kick between Mayo’s legs). Anyway, everyone should like this movie.