In 10 Words or Less
Finding one's self by finding home
Loves: Good independent films
Likes: Bonnie Hunt
Dislikes: "Message" films
Tim Kirkman brought us the clever documentary Dear Jesse, in which he draws parallels between himself, a gay filmmaker, and his senator, the blatantly homophobic Jesse Helms. Informed by his views on homosexuality and how different people react to it, and flavored by his North Carolina heritage, it was a good opportunity to get the reality of the situation out of the way before trying his hand at dramaticizing the topics in Loggerheads. The practice has paid off, as he shows a steady hand in exploring the subject matter through the prism of people trying to rediscover what home is and what home means. That's where the title comes from, a point made clear in the film.
The movie plays out through three time periods and in three areas of North Carolina, all closely related. In each one, a character struggling with the concept of home provides part of the overall tale. Bonnie Hunt plays a woman unsatisfied with her current status, which is made up of living with her mother (Michael Lerned) and working at a car-rental shop. As a result, she wants to track down the child she gave up for adoption when she was 17. The hunt and the complications involved create troubles for her and her mother, and bring forth emotions that might be better left buried under the years that have passed.
In the second story, Mark (Kip Pardue) is a young man trying to save some endangered turtles. With nothing to his name, he sleeps on the beach, until George (Michael Kelly), the proprietor of a local hotel, takes a shine to him. Mark is a sick man, a fact he doesn't hide from George, but it doesn't prevent him from trying to do good. The romance that grows between them, one without conditions, is an example of what everyone else is looking for.
That includes Elizabeth (Tess Harper) and Robert (Chris Sarandon), a conservative, religious couple whose son ran away from home. The loss troubles them, but then, many things do, not the least of which is the nudity displayed on a neighbor's lawn in the form of the Statue of David, and the two men who bought a neighbor's house, without a woman in sight. Thankfully, they are not the stereotypical fire-and-brimstone southern family, and instead present a more human aspect of what being religious is.
If you haven't put the pieces together by now, you're in for a surprise. But as you more than likely have, don't think you know the whole story. Much of why this movie is worth watching is how things happen, not what happens. Solid acting, including an out-of-character turn from Hunt, and quality directing and editing choices help keep the various strings of story together in a cohesive whole, and makes following the time lines easier than it could have been.
The trouble comes with the writing, which is often far too on-the-nose, as if trying to put a sign on a scene saying "This is important." Though the music montages are a bit overwrought, it doesn't get too far out of control, while some moments, like Robert's reaction to Elizabeth's revelation about her son, are a bit disrupting in their bluntness. Luckily, they aren't a massive problem, as Kirkland shows he's capable of getting more out of an economy of words, telling much about the characters through what might be considered throwaway lines.
On something of a sidenote, several sites online list "Savage" Steve Holland, of Better Off Dead fame, as a director on this film. I can't see the connection, other than a shared last name with producer Gill Holland, as the film has none of the director's trademark touches. If anyone can write in to explain this, please do so.
Packed in a standard keepcase is a one-disc release of Loggerheads, which features an animated, yet oddly full-frame main menu that offers options to view the film, select scenes and check out the special features. There are no audio or subtitle options, while the scene selection menus have still previews and titles for each chapter.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer is rather nice looking for a low-budget independent film, as it features solid, vivid color and a good level of detail, despite some scenes that aren't as sharp as others. A small amount of dirt is evident in a few select spots, but there's no technical issues. The lush settings are depicted quite well on this DVD.
The sound is delivered in a Dolby Surround 2.0 track that remains center-focused throughout the film. That doesn't lend itself to any dynamic effects, but the dialogue is clean and the music comes across strong, without interfering in the mix.
The extras start with a feature-length audio commentary from Kirkman. A somewhat low-key speaker, Kirkman has plenty to say about this film, pointing out areas of the film where he wants to share his thoughts about what's going on on-screen, or just tell stories about the movie and the production. This track does what a good info track should so, which is all a quality commentary needs.
A pair of interviews with Bonnie Hunt and Kip Pardue are the usual sit-downs done during press junkets, with the stars sitting in front of the film's poster. Together, they run about 14 minutes long, and the content is of the run-of-the-mill "What's it like to work with..." style.
The four minutes of deleted scenes show exactly why they were cut from the film, while the disc wraps up with a two-minute automatic photo gallery and a set of five trailers, including one for Loggerheads.
The Bottom Line
Loggerheads is a solid film that's told out of order, but one that doesn't use the construction as a gimmick meant to carry the film. Instead, the actors are asked to take the film from beginning to end, and they manage to do so, despite a script that doesn't always help them out. The DVD looks and sounds good, and has a few extras that might appeal to viewers who enjoy the movie. If you enjoy time-shifting films and stories of family strife, this is a good choice.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.