The Bloodworth family is composed of three generations of men. Patriarch E.F. is a looming figure played with a cool but open heart by veteran actor Kris Kristofferson. Grandson Fleming (Reece Daniel Thompson) is a bit of a black sheep; he longs to understand the nature of his bloodline but wants little more than to leave its legacy behind. As blood runs deep, this will be a task more difficult than he could possibly imagine; it may in fact be impossible. Bloodworth is a true southern gothic. There is nary a smile nor chuckle to be had throughout and ultimately things end badly. The density of the drama will draw some audiences and repel others, and those who come may find it all a bit too dramatic for plausibility. (I certainly did.) Nevertheless it's a well-made film. Revenues will likely depend on which side of Mason-Dixon Line the theaters carrying this limited release are located.
Forty years ago E.F. Bloodworth (Kristofferson) abandoned his wife and three sons. The reason why is the great secret of the story, but as is true to southern gothic storytelling, every man dies with his secrets. E.F. became an itinerant musician, never quite the success his talent called for. The fault was probably E.F's. His absence has made him more present than he would have been had he actually stayed with his family. It destroyed his wife (Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under), who never truly recovered. His son Boyd (Dwight Yoakam) married and had Fleming (Thompson), but when Boyd's wife ran off he never recovered. As is also true to southern gothic stories, family patterns repeat. Warren (played big by Val Kilmer) is a whore mongering bad boy waving the Bloodworth banner proudly. Brady (W. Earl Brown) stayed with his devastated mother and became a preacher, invoking the wrath of God to bring curses on his wayward brothers and abandoning father. W. Earl Brown twitches erratically, drags around a clubbed foot and brings fire and brimstone to his performance. He's a hoot.
Adapted from author William Gay's novel Provinces of Night by co-star and Kentuckian W. Earl Brown, Bloodworth is steeped not only in a Tennessee Williams-esque narrative, but the tones and textures of the south. Silk Wood trees, dirt roads to nowhere, tin-topped dwellings and the evening sounds of the south are all cast perfectly. The rise and fall of cricket symphonies were particularly on point.
The visuals are as lingeringly rich as Carolina summers. The music is supervised by the legendary T-Bone Burnett and is authentic and poignant.
That's a movie.
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Film
Cast: Reece Daniel Thompson, Kris Kristofferson, Dwight Yoakam, Val Kilmer, Hilary Duff, Frances Conroy, W. Earl Brown
Director: Shane Dax Taylor
Screenwriter: W. Earl Brown
Producers: Shane Dax Taylor, W. Earl Brown, Kenneth Burke
Rating: R for language, some violence and drug content.
Running Time: 95 min.
Release date: May 20 ltd.