Twenty-one-year-old Bartle (Alden Ehrenreich, soon to play the young Han Solo) and 18-year-old Murph (Tye Sheridan) become fast friends in army training before shipping off to fight insurgents in Iraq. Taken under the wing of a hot-headed sergeant (Jack Huston), they wander into the fog of war, but Murph never comes back. Bartle returns home with the secrets of Murph’s disappearance held close to his aching chest, while a shrewd military investigator (Jason Patric) and Murph’s anguished mom (Jennifer Aniston) demand answers.
Adapted by David Lowery, from the acclaimed 2012 novel by Iraq War veteran Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds unfolds like a mystery, conveying its story in stark flashbacks and haunting fragments from the frontlines. Director Alexandre Moors follows up his striking debut feature, Blue Caprice (2013 Sundance Film Festival), with an enigmatic but unflinching drama about the costs of war—to both those who fight and those they leave behind. At the film’s center, Ehrenreich gives a startling performance layered with toughness and vulnerability, revealing an inner battle between competing codes of silence and friendship.