A decade after a tragic event, Jacob decides to return home to his small southern roots, only to find that the past is not really the past and that people may change but they never forget. Can you ever really go home?
Ten years after leaving his small southern town following a tragic event, Jacob decides that returning home might help him find the closure he's sought after for years. In a decaying town that time has forgotten, the past is never really the past and rumors and truth tend to blur together. The sad, unforgotten consequences of that one fateful night have forever altered their community and those he left behind. Haddy, who has spent her life in the shadows and whispers of her father's sins, is the only one brave enough to reach out to him. When Jacob returns, his mother Connie, best friend Tyler, and the girl he tragically left in his wake, Kristen, find themselves intertwined once again. His unexpected homecoming causes them all to face old ghosts, whether they're willing to or not. For Haddy, their lives act as a mirror to her own buried needs. She must face up to the reality that the small town she once loved may not be her future while Jacob searches for his way home again. Written by
Can You Ever Really Go Home? Why Would You Want To?
Recently viewing this at the Oxford Film Festival, I realized that there's nothing like a festival to demonstrate just how much goes into independent film-making (a term, I know, that is itself open to challenge). No one feels such a proximity to a multi-million-dollar effects-driven blockbuster. Perhaps that's why we go to them. But when we go to one of these increasingly popular, regional film festivals (and if you haven't, I strongly encourage you to do so), we see the people behind the process, attempting to make something much closer to our experience, with an admirable attempt at transparency (via Q&As, related social events, etc.) After attending one of these, you might be tempted to think that you could pull it off. You can't. The truth is that film-making is an incredibly intricate process demanding attention to detail, people skills, incredible organization, and a hundred other hidden talents. So, merely pulling off the technical aspects of making a film for under $300,000 demands some credit. I couldn't pull it off. Hence at least three of my four points.
But that's as much as I can muster. The action surrounds Jacob (Alex Walters), who is back in his small town after a ten-year absence. I won't reveal why he was ostracized here, as I'm not sure whether his alleged crime is supposed to be a surprise. We don't find out exactly what for until relatively late in the film; then again, nothing in this film felt like a surprise. The characters on the screen took human form, but they didn't sound like any humans I know -- more like soap opera clichés, minus the passion; consequently, I found an involuntary snort emerge from my nostrils when a character was cursing, supposedly in anger. It sounded instead like a sixth-grader who was experimenting with cussin' for the first time but couldn't get over the novelty of saying something naughty.
In any case, we watch all of the characters contend on some level with their perception of what happened on that fateful night ten years before. Tyler (Bo Keister) is so upset about it that he has become Jill's (T. Lynn Mikeska) drug daddy and plain old bully to just about everyone else. More specifically, he is gunning for Jacob and is willing to intimidate anyone who tries to get in his way. The thing is, not everyone is intimidated by him, like Patrick the sage, easy-going bartender, played patiently by veteran Lance E. Nichols. (I couldn't help noticing that this is the only bar in America where people order everything BUT alcohol.) Also, Tyler's sister Kristen (Catherine Elizabeth Connelly); she's not afraid of him. Come to think of it, neither was I.
Throughout the film, I felt as though director Thomas Phillips was unreflectively derivative, by which I mean that he went into a bag of tricks and regularly pulled out something that looked cool but then thoughtlessly placed it in the film: Bergman-esque silences in dialog so prolonged that I began to wonder if someone had forgotten lines or was narcoleptic, frequent thematic montages that seemed intended to imply connection but to no discernible purpose, and so on.
Candice Michele Barley holds up reasonably well under the circumstances as Haddy, who initially serves as our guide through an investigation of what really happened but who eventually gives up because... I'm not sure why actually. Something Jacob says or does eventually convinces her that he's innocent... or that it doesn't matter. Maybe she's just decided that it's time to switch from a seedy father (Johnny McPhail) to a seedy boyfriend. To be honest, by that point, I was just trying to figure an inconspicuous way out of the theater.
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