The Hail Mary
10 Feb 2022
Ozzie Jones, Sean Michael Harrison, Tinesha Ersland, Rachel Missie, Nnamdi Kanaga
An emotional story about the troubled relationship between a young man and his father.
Darius (Jones) and his teenage son Terrell (Harrison) are African Americans who move together to Montana. After Terrell's mother Cicely (Ersland) passed away, Darius went away for a while, leaving his son to be cared for by his aunt Grace (Missie). As a result, things between father and son are not good and Darius is distant towards his son, which is very painful for Terrell.
This drama is based on true events and it is Kanaga's debut feature film. The narrative is quite heavy on emotions and contains many moving scenes. The main focus is the fractured relationship between Darius and Terrell and the film effectively examines the troubled emotional state of both these characters. Through the use of flashbacks, the viewer learns about the happiness these two had with Cicely and about Darius's experiences in war, when he was a soldier. The movie explores themes of loss, nostalgia, family values, parenthood, post-traumatic stress disorder and also refers to the struggles of being an African American in the United States.
The protagonists deliver very strong performances. Jones is superb as a man who is traumatised by the horrors of combat and torn apart by the loss of his wife. As a result, he does not know how to be a good father and the dramatic opening scene partially explains why he became a harsh parent. Harrison is very convincing as a youngster who is angry with his father for not being there for him when his mother passed away and listens to music as a means of escape. Kanaga has a role as Terrell's teacher, who is concerned about his well-being and is determined to help him. Kanaga plays the part very well and great praise also goes to Ersland and Missie.
Kanaga does a wonderful job as director and creates terrific establishing shots and well executed long takes. His screenplay explores the characters' lives well and contains well written dialogue. The beautiful and sentimental score significantly assists in developing the right atmosphere.
This is a very emotional and powerful film that concentrates on dealing with loss, being a decent parent and supporting each other. The heavy drama and outstanding acting will most likely provide the audience with a moving experience.