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Thursday, June 04, 2009

SIFF Sighting: PRODIGAL SONS (documentary; USA)

PRODIGAL

In Kimberly Reed's PRODIGAL SONS, the audience at first believes they are going to see a 'coming out' of sorts, as Kimberly (yes, the director) returns to Montana for her high school reunion. When she attended the school she was a quarterback on the football team; now she is a successful woman complete with a (female) partner, a successful career and a life in the Big Apple.

But when she arrives at the reunion, instead of being met with hostility or anger at the new life she's chosen, she's greeted warmly by old friends and welcomed back into her hometown with open arms. What she didn't bank on was that her most challenging relationship would be with her adopted older brother, Marc.

Years ago, Marc flipped his car and suffered a serious head injury. Over the years he's had multiple surgeries to help correct the seizures and violent outbursts caused by the damage to his frontal lobe. Nothing so far has worked and his memory loss and aggression is only getting worse.

It appears when Kimberly returns with her partner Claire that Marc wants desperately to be close to them and accept them for who they are. But he can't let go of his past feelings of inferiority where Kimberly is concerned and Kimberly wants nothing to do with the past.

As if the situation isn't complicated enough, Marc's search for his biological parents ends when he learns that he is the son of Rebecca Welles--the daughter of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Soon he is mourning the loss of a mom he never knew and immersing himself in the life of his famous grandfather, with the help of Orson's soul mate in Croatia.

This compelling documentary not only emphasizes the importance of acceptance and grace, it serves as a brutal reminder of why we can't turn away from those with mental illness. For everyone's sake.

PRODIGAL SONS screened at the 35th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.

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Marc

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