Tim Kirkman’s Loggerheads is a minor-key Short Cuts that bends over backward to connect the birthing ritual of the loggerhead turtle to the crisis of abandonment that characterizes and conjoins each of its narrative threads, but while Kirkman’s metaphor-building may be strenuous, his take on the relationship drama resonates nuance and precision. Not only is the film distinguished by its very fine performances and lovely detail work but also by its fascinating timeline of events. In North Carolina’s Kure Beach, circa 1999, George (Michael Kelly) falls for the HIV-positive Mark (Kip Pardue), who wanders into town looking to save the beach’s loggerhead turtles. One year later in nearby Eden, Elizabeth (Tess Harper) confronts her preacher husband (Chris Sarandon) about their gay son who ran away from home. Over in Asheville—again, one year later—Grace (Bonnie Hunt) begins to search for the boy she gave up for adoption over 25 years ago. Kirkman uses subtle political noise (Clinton talking about Y2K fears, Gore and Bush heading into the election, and Dubya speaking about his first 100 days in office) to give his three stories a built-in dissonance to one another, but Loggerheads avoids political commentary—or rather, it’s only political concerns are the politics of human interaction and the things which inform our coded defense mechanisms. Kirkman has his actors bring their characters to life with only the most necessary raw materials—often with as little as a single recollection from their past or the tiniest detail about their way of life, like George talking about the dead lover whose smile he fell in love with, Mark instinctually revealing his HIV status, Elizabeth rewarding herself with a cigarette after making an apple pie for her ostensibly gay neighbors, and Grace stressing to her mother that it wasn’t an accident when she downed a bottle of pills. Sentimental but scarcely maudlin, Loggerheads may not be as visually inventive as Junebug but it’s every bit as impressive for being able to say so much about the way we love and repel one another with the tiniest and most generous of building blocks.
- Tim Kirkman
- Tim Kirkman
- Tess Harper, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Kelly, Michael Learned, Kip Pardue, Ann Owens Pierce, Chris Sarandon, Valerie Watkins, Robin Weigert
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