Reparation – Film Review: Special Valley Engagement

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The review below is a re-print of the film Reparation.  It was first published in February of this year when director Kyle Ham’s drama was shown at the 2016 Sedona International Film Festival.  After two sold-out screenings, the film went on to win the Audience Choice/Best Feature: Drama award.  This week, local valley audiences will get the chance to see the film for themselves outside of the festival circuit.   Reparation will be shown Wednesday, September 28, 7:30 pm at  Studio Movie Grill (15515 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260)
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In the new psychological drama Reparation from director Kyle Ham, when we first meet Bob Stevens (Marc Menchaca) he’s in a bad way. We’re not exactly sure what’s happened or why but one thing’s for certain, he’s certainly in need of help.

You can see one thing at a time, but you can’t see the whole thing,” narrates the voice of Charlotte (Dale Dye Thomas), Bob’s eight year-old daughter through whom we see many of the events that follow. We don’t know a lot about Bob, but through quick flashbacks, long before Charlotte arrived, and even before Bob met his wife, Lucy, evidently something disturbing happened to cause the man to lose his memory. He hasn’t lost all of it, just three years.

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Listen, Stephens,” threatens someone in a military officer’s uniform, “You can fool the doctors, but you can’t fool me.” We only catch a glimpse of the officer, but it’s enough to let us know that whatever Bob’s issue was, it must have had something to do with the Air Force. Later, we’ll find out who that officer is, but for the time being, we’re still in the dark.

Then there’s the mysterious little boy who appears by Bob’s side just at the moment when the man needs encouragement the most. “I’ve got your back,” the boy (Brody Behr) tells him. The odd thing about this child is that it’s obvious he’s not really there. When he speaks he sounds wise beyond his years, but why he keeps appearing is just another element to the story’s mystery. The boy is Jiminy Cricket to Bob’s conscience and he’s trying to be the man’s guide, if only Bob took notice.

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The strength to Reparation is that it pulls you in from practically the opening frame. There’s so much you want to know and so many questions to ask. What is that gun shot we see on Bob’s face in the flash of a moment? Who was the threatening officer? And why is that mysterious young boy offering sage advice to an older man? And most important, why has Bob lost his memory or, at least, his recollection of what happened during his time in the Air Force? The narrative does a smart job of raising all of these issues within just a few minutes, and you’re immediately hooked.

The bulk of the action takes place in rural Indiana where Bob now lives and works selling fruit and vegetables from a roadside stand, and it’s here where some time after having been discharged from the Air Force he meets the woman who will soon be his wife. Virginia Newcomb plays Lucy and she’s quite the spitfire. But it’s the arrival of another character that brings the problems. Jon Huertas plays Jerome, someone from Bob’s past. Like everything else in the film, there’s not a lot we know about Jerome – and Bob has no recollection of the man – but Jerome knows a lot about Bob and his days as a cop in the Air Force, and whatever it is that he’s now doing in Indiana, we instinctively know it’s not good.

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But perhaps the most mysterious element of all is one that you never expect and it’s all to do with the daughter. At a time when Bob struggles to recall whatever it was that happened to him back in the Air Force, back before he met his wife and certainly back before his daughter was born, Charlotte suddenly remembers things – they come to her as nightmares – only they’re not her memories; they’re her fathers’. The young girl has inherited her father’s lost memory, only she’s too young to know what she’s seeing.

Based on a play called The Activist by Steve Trim who also co-wrote the script with director Ham, Reparation holds you firmly in its grip right up until the satisfying fade where every question you’ve asked yourself throughout is finally answered. But it’s not just the story and the way in which intriguing issues are revealed that keep you glued, it’s the performances of a solid cast with convincing portrayals that makes things tick. Plus, director Ham does a nice job of moving the events of a drama into an eventual thriller as daughter Charlotte creepily declares in the middle of the night, “The people in my dreams are showing up at my house.” The events of Bob and Lucy’s Indiana home under siege are tense and exciting, then ultimately and unexpectedly heartbreaking as the truth behind the mysteries finally falls into place.

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Well told and well played, Reparation is a festival must-see. Through some detective work of your own you’ll piece parts of the mystery together yourself, but there are a few secrets you won’t see coming, and ultimately that’s what makes this widescreen film work as well as it does.

MPAA Rating:  NR      Length: 105 Minutes

To find out more about the film CLICK HERE for the official Reparation Film Website

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