This is a very grown up film. Soft, subtle, uplifting and generous in its story telling.
Go in expecting the best and you’ll come out smiling.
Wall Street Journal
…gets two cheers… for its redemptive warmth and a troupe of actors unfailingly bringing out the best in each other.
This adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain that begins when Zak, a young man with Down syndrome runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck. Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler, a small time outlaw on the run becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor, a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own to join them on their journey.
It’s a buddy movie, but it has the quality of a fable. The waves, cornfields, marshes, crab pots … even the condition of Tyler’s boat – they come from reality, not someone’s idea of reality. Bluegrass, country songs, gospel hymns punctuate the narrative. It’s a fable, but a fable grounded in details, the here-and-now. Except for the “names”, the film seems to be populated by many non-professional actors, or at least people who actually live in the area. This makes a huge difference. Zac lives in the real world. Unlike so many disabled characters in film, Zac is not utilised as a symbol, a metaphor, or created to be inspirational. He’s the central figure, he’s outspoken and strong, funny and vulnerable. He’s never had a friend before. He’s always wanted to be “bro dawgs” with someone. Watching the relationship develop with Tyler is one of the film’s many pleasures.
USA 2019, 96 min, rated M (violence & offensive language)
Directed by Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz
Starring Shia LeBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, Jon Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church & Jon Bernthal