Friday, February 26, 2010

Kimberly Reed's PRODIGAL SONS looks at a heartland American family. Yikes.

When a family is going to pieces and the camera keeps on rolling, not just the family but the viewer and the filmmaker can find themselves in deep trouble -- or at least very tricky territory. (Remember Tarnation, Capturing the Friedmans and quite a few others?)  So it is with PRODIGAL SONS, the new documentary by and with Kimberly Reed (shown below), who details here her own family's history.

Full of surprises, some of which are sprung quickly while others detonate later, the film is one that, if you know little about it, keep it that way and simply watch and learn. While TrustMovies must go out of his way not to spoil things, he will say, however, that Ms. Reed's doc deals with identity in a major way, though given the enormous change of identity(ies) shown here, part of the problem is how little we learn about the characters in front of us for the nearly 90-minute running time. 

"I don't like those photos!" (One of which is shown above) "Why did you bring them out?" Kim asks her troubled brother Marc (below, center, and bottom, left) at one point and explains to him that the past is something that upsets her terribly.  And that's about as deep and specific as it gets, in terms of probing feelings and the reasons behind them.  What has happened to Kim and Marc (and continues to happen in the course of the movie) is major and more than a little interesting.  The fact that one of the reasons for this family get-together is so that Kim can attend her high school reunion provides yet another hook. 

We see the family then and now (above), along with Montana (and that reunion), where the kids grew up; a little of New York, where Kim now resides;  San Diego, the current home of brother Todd; and Marc and his family's home in, I believe, the Pacific Northwest.  We even go to Croatia, which provides some gorgeous scenery. Clearly, I am beating about the bush so that I spill no beans.  I do recommend seeing the movie, which consistently fascinates and is, in its way, one of a kind.  But it ought to have been better. 

Prodigal Sons opens today, Friday, February 26 at New York City's Cinema Village (Ms Reed and others connected to the film will appear for a Q&A at various screenings; click on the link above for specifics).  A limited national rollout will begin in March.  Check the individual cities and dates here (click and refer to the right-hand side of the screen).

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