The rare spirit of character-driven, independent American movies lives on in writer-director Tim Kirkman's beautifully acted, structurally sophisticated heart-tugger. Based on the true story of a North Carolina mother attempting to locate the son she gave up for adoption years earlier, Kirkman's film uses three narratives to tell a single story about motherhood lost and found. Kure Beach, N.C., 1999: Gay motel owner George (Michael Kelly) befriends Mark (Kip Pardue), a young, HIV+ drifter who left his conservative-Christian adoptive parents at age 17, when he realized that they would never be able to accept his homosexuality. Mark has come to Kure Beach to help protect the nests of the loggerhead turtles who, in an amazing display of maternal instinct, return to the beach on which they were born in order to lay their own eggs. Eden, N.C., 2000: Nearly 10 years after her adopted son left home for parts unknown, a neighbor (Ann Pierce) informs Elizabeth (Tess Harper) that he's now very sick, and that it's time for her to put aside her feelings about his "lifestyle." Whether or not Elizabeth has the strength to confront her quietly overbearing husband (Chris Sarandon), a Baptist minister, and seek out her gay son is another matter entirely. Asheville, NC, 2001: After suffering from a nervous breakdown that culminated in attempted suicide, Grace Bellamy (Bonnie Hunt) is back home with her mother (Michael Learned) and working for a rental-car agency. Grace knows her emotional troubles are rooted in having surrendered a child for adoption when she was 17, but until now lacked the courage — and the encouragement — to look for her lost son. The Charlotte-based agency that handled the adoption tells her that North Carolina law protects children from intrusive birth mothers by keeping adoption records sealed, so Grace turns to an underground organization dedicated to effecting such reunions. Kirkman's previous films include the excellent documentary DEAR JESSE (1998), which takes aim at the enduring popularity of North Carolina's favorite homophobe, Jesse Helms. He deliberately sets this heartfelt drama at a time when the religious fundamentalism of the Bush administration was unclouded by 9/11 and the subsequent war on terror (those recurring sound clips of George W. Bush are no accident). Kirkman's symbolism is subtle, the acting is close to perfect and in his own quiet way, Kirkman makes an argument in favor of overturning existing laws that seek to "protect" adopted children from their original mothers.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: The rare spirit of character-driven, independent American movies lives on in writer-director Tim Kirkman's beautifully acted, structurally sophisticated heart-tugger. Based on the true story of a North Carolina mother attempting to locate the son she gave… (more)