R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Tim Kirkman
with Kip Pardue, Bonnie Hunt, Tess Harper, Michael Kelly, Chris Sarandon, Michael Learned, Ann Owens Pierce, Valerie Watkins, Robin Weigert, Trevor Gagnon, Craig Walker, Jeff Billak
release US 14.Oct.05,
UK Apr.06 llgff
05/US 1h33

On the beach: Kelly and Pardue (above); Hunt and Harper (below)
hunt and harper

pardue sarandon

london l&g film fest

Loggerheads Based on a true story, this deeply intimate three-strand drama has a powerful resonance in its examination of denial, regret and hope.

Three stories, three places, three successive years: Mark (Pardue) travels to North Carolina's Kure Beach to watch the endangered loggerhead turtles. There he meets a hotel owner (Kelly) and strikes up a tentative relationship. In Asheville, his biological mother Grace (Hunt) is struggling, due to the state's closed-records policy, to find the son she gave up for adoption. And in Eden, his adoptive mother Beth (Harper) is battling her own demons, feeling guilty about rejecting her son because of his sexuality. Her minister husband (Sarandon) has no second thoughts.

Through the fractured, intertwined narrative these three stories play out as a grand search to settle unfinished business, find meaning and make connections. What makes it more intriguing is the time shift, because if they don't find each other in the right order, they may never get there. It's a daring approach, and Kirkman handles it with a delicate elegance that takes us on an emotional journey into parenthood and childhood, atonement and forgiveness. It's such a powerfully human story that we can't help but identify with each character.

And it does help that they're played by excellent actors. Harper and especially Hunt are wonderful--these are women searching for something they may never find, and they play every scene with subtlety and raw honesty. Meanwhile, Pardue beautifully captures the film's introspective, thoughtful tone as a young man who's a bundle of denial and obsession, struggling to accept help, or hope, when it's offered.

Kirkman maintains a quietly intense tone as he gently explores how people refuse to confront life's untidy realities. There's a lot of emotional loneliness in this film, but it's played with a glimmer of optimism through the side characters--Kelly's scarred but helpful friend, Learned's reticent but open mother and Pierce's consistently caring neighbour. These human connections are sharply moving, and as the sequential nature of the story takes on more significance, the film becomes jarringly effective at forcing us to confront the forgotten truths of our own lives.

cert 12 themes, language 7.Apr.06 llgff

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall