BWW Reviews: SAND CASTLES Casts Light on the Child Lost but Found and the Journey that Follows

BWW Reviews: SAND CASTLES Casts Light on the Child Lost but Found and the Journey that Follows

(The 21st Annual Sedona International Film Festival, running from February 21st through March 1st, is featuring 160 documentaries, features, shorts, Academy Award nominees and specialty films. The following is one of a series of reviews of selected films from the Festival.)

A child appears, mute and traumatized, rushing through the woods, a fugitive from ten years of captivity at the hands of a pedophile.

Flashbacks to a good family time at the beach, building a sand castle crowned by a chess queen.

A momentary glance away that will yield a decade's worth of pain.

The loss of the child (at whose despicable hands?) has wreaked its havoc on those left behind ~ the despondent alcoholic mother, Marie (Saxon Trainor); older brother Noah (Jordon Hodges), a lumber mill worker; Uncle Tommy (Randy Spence), seething with anger and an irresistible itch for revenge. Each bears their cross; all wrestle with their demons.

An excerpt from Proverbs 23:18 has affirmed that "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off."

Sand Castles, written and produced by Mr. Hodges and directed by Clenét Verdi-Rose, gives promise to the proverb as it painstakingly and dramatically tracks the Daly Family's journey to hope and Lauren's to recovery.

There's a solemnity and tautness to the film's pacing, an air of danger that presides in the background music by Todd Maki and in the moods of its male characters, and a promise of possibility and justice (what you might think of as great expectations).

It is, however, the stunning performance of Anne Winters that makes this such a haunting and powerful film. Hers is a remarkably expressive countenance; her expressions, worth a thousand words; her eyes, a roadmap to Lauren's fears and reflections. In a uniquely understated performance, Ms. Winters delivers a singularly powerful and heart-wrenching performance.

In the real world, the road to recovery is not a straight line. It is filled with pitfalls and detours. Sand Castles does not spare us reminders of this reality (for example, Lauren's removal by Children's Protective Services from the Daly home to foster care) and the falls from propriety of even the noblest characters (Lauren's social worker's ill-advised affair with Noah).

In the real world, as Noah notes, everyone has choices ~ some to be celebrated and some from which there is no return.

In the wake of headlines that have screamed the tragedies of lost children and their enslavement by madmen ~ the worst nightmare of any parent ~ Sand Castles is an especially relevant and timely contribution. At the center of this tale of tragedy and hope, of desperation and redemption, is a message about the mindfulness that is essential to the caring of our children, the patience that is required when we must relieve them of their pain, and the hollowness of revenge. At the end of this tale is an abiding sense of reverence.

Photo credit to Chris Faulisi

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