A Love That Never Dies

 

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Would that the quality of this film matched its good intentions!

 
A Love That Never Dies

 

If death in general is sometimes referred to as a taboo subject, it is no surprise to find that this film by Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris is tackling unfamiliar ground in focusing on parents who have lost children who died in their teens or twenties.  A Love That Never Dies is the most personal of projects because it stems from the fact that these two lost their son, Josh, when he was killed in a road accident in Vietnam at the age of twenty-two. They are accordingly central to their own film, but, in addition to talking about their own experience, they travel across America by car stopping off in Georgia, California, Tennessee, New Mexico and Louisiana to discuss with other parents the losses that they have suffered and how they have coped.

 

No film could be more well-meaning and, even if much of what is said is hardly exceptional, the very fact of hearing others talk about their situation may well bring comfort to viewers who have shared this experience. Consequently, this film is very welcome, but as a critic I am concerned with quality and I have to say that as filmmaking much of A Love That Never Dies strikes me as totally inept, even though at 75 minutes it is hardly overextended.

 

Three serious flaws not apparent in the trailer which I had seen and which seemed to promise a much better film are central here: a persistent banal music score which at least eases up in the second half, a lack of flow due to the way in which the film has been edited and a failure to find a satisfactory structure. It may well be that this would all have worked better as a piece of radio. Intercutting comments direct to camera by Edmonds and Harris with shots of their road trip over which their voices continue to be heard illustrates the problem of making this material work as a film (equally cutting back and forth between Edmonds and Harris in different settings makes for rough filming). Returning to these two from time to time for further thoughts about Josh is reasonable enough since they provide the link that runs through the film, but to incorporate footage of them in Vietnam much later on fits most uneasily into the structure, as do unexpected extra scenes with the bereaved mother in Georgia.

 

It is in its second half that the film works better. This is especially the case with the story of Gayle Rose in Tennessee since the son she lost and her response to his death are inspiring. Also striking is the tragedy that overtook the Anglin family in New Mexico. However, that segment, despite being so closely related to the themes of the film, is more a comment on that current hot issue, the attitude of Americans to firearms. In any case, the ill-judged incorporation of additional footage during the end credits once again underlines my regret that the filmmaking is so poorly judged. But I nevertheless wish to stress that there will be many who care not a jot about the technical and artistic aspects involved and will just rejoice that so many bereaved parents were ready to speak out honestly.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring  Jimmy Edmonds, Jane Harris, Gayle Rose, Kim Garrison, Duffy Anglin, Kelly Anglin, Taylor Anglin, Duffy St. Pierre, Denise St. Pierre, Denise Martinez, Dale Martinez.

 

Dir Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris, Pro Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris, Ph Jimmy Edmonds, Ed Jimmy Edmonds, Music Steve Cooke and Russell Taylor.

 

Beyond Goodbye Media for The Good Grief Project-Beyond Goodbye Media.
75 mins. UK/India/USA/Vietnam. 2017. Rel: 18 May 2018. Cert. 12A.