Loggerheads


         When I first started doing film reviews again after a very long
 hiatus, I was also asked to do the occasional interview. Truthfully, I
 abhorred the press junkets where several journalists are shepherded
 into a room and the “talent” is brought in to offer a few pre-planned
 tidbits that are delivered as if they were meant only for those in
 the room. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the “one on one”
 interviews where you get to spend time with a particular person. One
 of the first individuals with whom I had the privilege of doing a
 one-on-one interview was filmmaker Tim Kirkman. At the time, he
 was promoting his first movie, the documentary
DEAR JESSE (1998).
 Since then I’ve eagerly followed his career, so it was a double pleasure
 when I saw his latest effort,
LOGGERHEADS, at the opening night
 of the 2005 NewFest. As I wrote at that time, this movie immediately
 earned a spot on my Ten Best list, and a second viewing only enhanced
 my original conclusions.

         Kirkman’s movie is drawn from real life. While making
 
DEAR JESSE, he was introduced to a North Carolina woman who
 had given up a child for adoption. In that state, all adoptions are
 closed; that is, even if the child or the birth mother searches for one
 another, the law forbids contact. Instead, each is provided with a list
 of generic information.

         LOGGERHEADS consists of three separate stories, each of which
 unfolds around Mother’s Day in a particular year, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
 When I first saw the film, there were only aural clues – President
 Clinton speaking about the upcoming Y2K problem, Vice President
 Gore making reference to the upcoming election, President George W.
 Bush referring to his first 100 days in office – yet somehow audiences
 didn’t get it. So, now there are title cards that flash across the screen
 giving the place and time of the events, which make these aural clues
 a little redundant. While it soon becomes clear that these strands are
 interrelated, they are resolved in ways that are profoundly moving and
 surprising.

         In 1999, HIV-positive Mark (Kip Pardue) is traveling and ends up
 camping out on the sands of Kure Beach, North Carolina, where the
 loggerhead turtles lay eggs. He soon catches the attention of local
 motel owner George (Michael Kelly) and the two develop an unlike
 friendship.

         Mother’s Day 2000 in Eden, North Carolina, finds Robert (Chris
 Sarandon) and Elizabeth (Tess Harper), a local minister and his wife,
 still trying to come to terms with the fact their adopted son ran away
 nearly a decade prior.

         In 2001, Grace Bellamy (Bonnie Hunt) is a woman haunted by
 the child she gave up for adoption. She is in recovery after a recent
 suicide attempt and has returned to the Asheville home of her
 judgmental mother (Michael Learned).

         It doesn’t take much effort to connect the dots and find the
 common bonds between the storylines, yet each is interesting and
 intriguing on its own. When they finally do dovetail, it is with genuinely
 moving results.

         The cast is uniformly excellent. Pardue does a creditable job
 as a young man running from his past who unexpectedly finds love.
 Tess Harper is heartbreaking as a minister’s wife coping with what
 she feels is her inadequacies as a parent. As her equally conflicted
 husband, Chris Sarandon is terrific. Bonnie Hunt is superb as the birth
 mother haunted by her past decisions, and Michael Learned is fine
 as her critical but loving mother.

         As a critic, it is always a privilege to watch a filmmaker grow
 and mature. Kirkman has developed into a masterful storyteller and
 an assured writer and director. I eagerly await his next project.



                     Rating:                           A-
                     MPAA Rating:                  NONE
                     Running time:                 95 mins.
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©  2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.