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