Monday, March 23, 2015

Prodigal Son Story is a Good Start for New Production Team

Review of the movie, "Confessions of a Prodigal Son."
(Lighting Dark)
Today's electronic technology has evolved so far in the last few years, that movie-making is no longer just for the big guys. More and more independent film companies are rising up every day. One of those companies is Lighting Dark who have just produced their first faith-based film, Confessions of a Prodigal Son.

The modern re-telling of the biblical Prodigal Son parable is a good beginning for the new start up. The film has some nice moments and settings to match. The finished product is an uneven one. The cast features a variety of actors, some with more experience acting more than others. Stand outs include Kevin Sorbo and Darwin Harris who help elevate the scenes that they are in. The contrast in acting ability is evident and unfortunately, the film could have benefited from a few more re-shoots and editing.

Nathan Clarkson plays Sean, the son of a preacher man (Sorbo), who still has a few wild oats to sow. Off on his own to college, Sean falls into temptation of partying late into the night and coming to class late in the morning. He has a chip on his shoulder, frustrated by his parent's rules back home. His good friend Brian (Creagen Dow) is an unhappy jerk who always on the lookout for his next girlfriend even while his current on is standing right next to him. Sean is a little more smooth when he meet Ali at the diner where she works. The two have a nice bantering of lines back and forth in his relentless pursuit of getting a date with the girl. Reluctantly, she obliges and soon the two are building a friendship, though Sean is clearly looking for more. However, just like the parable, soon Sean's money starts to run out, begins failing his classes and losing his friends. Will Sean get his life back on track? If you read the parable, you know the ending.

To speak badly of a faith-based movie feels like committing a sin. There is much to like in this tale, but overall, it may have been too ambitious for a first try. Many scenes are overlong trying to sound authentic but instead are field with lines like, “What do you mean?” “I don't know. You know?” “Yeah, I think I do.” We never really understand what made Sean's life was so bad back home and though Ali states a few times about her anger toward her dad, the reason why is only vaguely explained.


The finished product is an uneven one. The cast features a variety of actors, some with more experience acting more than others. Stand outs include Kevin Sorbo and Darwin Harris who help elevate every scene that they are in. Unfortunately, they are not in the film enough. The contrast in acting ability is evident and unfortunately, the film could have benefited from a few more re-shoots and edits. The film lacks emotional depth with stereotype characters. Sean's prodigal is a little too squeaky clean for the role while his friend Brian is so off-putting, there isn't a redeeming reason why Sean would want to hang out with him in the first place. Finally, for a story that is all about conflict, the script plays it safe from addressing much conflict. The film missed opportunities to be funny or to build tension. However, the narration style of the film is a nice touch and the message of seeing your life as a story, a story that you have some say on how it will end, is a nice message to share.

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