SXSW Film Festival Movie Review: FLESH AND BLOOD

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the drama FLESH AND BLOOD by writer/director Mark Webber.  To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary: 

"Mark, a former addict just released from prison, returns home to live with his family.  While away in prison, his younger brother has grown up, his mother has become a nominee for vice president, and his former girlfriend has had another man's baby." 

Okay, so that is a pretty bare bones plot summary, but what it leaves out is the fact that the majority of the roles in this feature are populated by Mark's real family and friends.  This gives an authenticity to the proceedings not usually found in other "based on a true story" films. Given that this is a family based drama, I am glad I was aware of this fact going into the movie as knowing how much of the actor's lines mirrored their real life added a lot of impact to their scenes. 

Sadly, the very thing that makes this a fascinating watch also proves a slight hindrance when it comes to the finale.  The last scene we see, one of peace and love, gives very little context to those who do not know the backstory of this picture.  Obviously anyone reading this will probably understand what is happening (or at the very least be able to infer), but those who do not know that this is based on the director's life will probably feel much more out of the loop. 

From an actual story standpoint, this really is all about one man readjusting to a familiar, yet different world.  We are not offered much in the way of plot, but instead are treated to a character study that speaks to issues of health, politics, and sobriety without ever becoming overly preachy.  During the moments where each person in this film recounts their struggles, the approach is one of a documentary interview which gives their dialogue a naturalistic, heartbreaking feel.  

I have a hard time commenting on the acting in this piece as I honestly feel as if there were no real actors.  It seems as if everyone within this feature was playing themselves, so finding out where the role ends and they began was nearly impossible.  This is one of the greatest strengths as it makes each person within this movie feel incredibly relatable.  

All in all, the approach to this story makes it a memorable experience.  While knowing the production background certainly helps in the impact of this piece, there is still enough here for those not in the know to chew over.  Fans of the realistic style of KIDS (1995) or struggling against impulse features like THE WOODSMAN (2004) will probably enjoy this character study. 

Nighty Nightmares,
The Creeping Craig