Jon Voight won his Oscar from his second nomination for portraying handicapped war veteran Luke Martin in Coming Home.
Jon Voight portrays the either bed bound or wheel chair bound Vietnam veteran Luke Martin.Voight initially portrays Luke in rather despondent fashion. He at first shows Luke as a man filled with a lot of anger, and sadness because of his conditions, and his feelings about the war as well. Although in these early moments Voight easily could have been a one note angry man as the troubled Luke but he never is.
In these scenes Voight appropriately stresses the pained history Luke has, even though it does not precisely show it here other wise than the fact that he clearly is handicapped. Voight though perfectly establishes Luke's troubled history through his performance. Voight stresses Luke's really violent anger over his situation that it is not at all precise, but random which perfectly shows how Luke has yet to come fully to grips with what has happened to him.
Voight is careful though never to overdo the anger this is still a person as Voight shows that has had a life before the war and other than the war. He tries to have moments of calmer interactions nice little moments where Voight naturally reacts without being angry, although always permeating underneath is his anger and pain that he cannot fully rid from himself no matter what.
Voight though does not stay angry throughout as Luke as he changes slowly due to his relationship with a volunteer at the veterans hospital Sally Bender (Jane Fonda) who was his former classmate back in high school. There relationship is at the center of the film, and exceedingly important in the way Voight develops Luke over the course of the film.
Fonda and Voight are good together, I would not quite put their chemistry together as amazing but they are indeed effective together. Voight is interesting as at first they have very conflicting moments with one another early on but slowly they come together. Voight is natural both when they conflict and when they have the more tender moments.
Voight weaves both tender and pain especially well, and shows how the two are balanced as well as overwhelm one another, the angry and pain at first overwhelms their nice moments with one another, but through her persistence Voight slowly shows the tender outweighs the anger, he slowly grows, and soon is able to use his pain and anger into more constructive ways.
Voight does this transition simply but effectively. Voight never overacts a moment of his performance. He in fact underplays each to great effect showing Luke as a man who wants to stop others form going through the same troubles as his not through big outbursts but instead through a quieter but completely honest passion that he refuses to let go of.
There is not an aspect of this performance that Voight does not portray in a honest and natural fashion. The romance is portrayed with ease by Voight and he brings it in brilliantly into his creation of Luke' anti war efforts, slowly making Luke into a man more fully aware of himself, and what he believes in a slow and but deeply powerful fashion. This is an incredibly strong performance by Voight that does not have a single misused moment.