“Sam Now” is a creative adventure into self-discovery that casualties in life often repeat themselves inflicting harm on the next generation.
Sam Harkness and his bother Reed had been amateur filmmakers since childhood especially after discovering an old Super 8 camera in their garage. A favourite character in their movies was a superhero “Blue Panther” they created. Sam was the actor and Reed the cameraman. They lived a comfortable middle-class life in Seattle with mother Jois and father Randy.
Jois disappears without a note or a clue in 2000. Reed and Sam decide to make a movie about the Blue Panther finding Jois. Talking about police bureaucracy and an obsession with privacy the police respond to a missing persons report saying they have located Jois but she wants no contact with her family.
Through their own detective work they locate Jois living with Professor Edward Gosselin in Oregon. Jois had confided with a fellow employee at a local restaurant in Seattle she would be leaving with a man that took her to his speaking engagements throughout the world. An exciting life.
Sam claims not to have been affected by the defection of Jois. But life experiences dictate otherwise as he has trouble forming lasting relationships and he dips a bit too heavily in the bottle. Brother Jared was affected seriously by his abandonment.
After not seeing his mother in three years Jois presents no concrete answer for what she did to Sam other than saying she had to see herself and get out of the control of everybody. One might think she is a classic airhead with a cruel and selfish streak in her. But she has a secret that explains her lack of remorse about her abandonment of her family. She proclaims that she is not the one that needs mending. She seems above it all. As a viewer you may find some compassion to accept why she might have done what she did but it may be more difficult to forgive. In this regard that is the same conclusion you might reach after seeing another Hot Docs film “Silent Beauty” for which you can see my review here https://setthebarlifestyle.wordpress.com/2022/04/18/rks-film-silent-beauty-a-monstrous-chain-of-pedophilia/?fbclid=IwAR1PVCXylOto_tjE-UGGUCh2nunkgx-RRsIEo3yozNMblxmbWTyNEK8I4VU
In both films the cycle of bad is so easily transferable from generation to generation.
On the lighter side of things I wondered if “Sam Now” was a documentary about a movie or a movie about a documentary.
Playing in theatre at Toronto Hot Docs on May 1/5 and as of May 2 it will screen virtually for five days.
Directed by Reed Harkness.
RKS Film Rating 77/100.