Loggerheads Movie Review
The title refers to -- among other things -- the loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs at the funky little beach resort of Kure Beach. Mark (Kip Pardue) is a twentysomething backpacker who has come to watch the turtles and sleep on the beach (in 1999), but when the cops roust him, he's saved by local gay motel owner George (Michael Kelly), who offers him a spare room. Mark, who's been on the road for a while and has seen a few things, assumes this is a sex-for-rent deal and he's willing to pay the price, but George assures him that's not what he had in mind.
In Eden (in 2000), the ultraconservative Reverend Robert Austin (Chris Sarandon) and his wife Elizabeth (Tess Harper) are worried that their new neighbors may be a gay couple. They seem lonely and childless, but we learn they have an adopted son who ran away a few years ago. Elizabeth thinks about him and worries, while Robert seems to have slammed that door shut forever.
In Ashville (in 2001), the depressed 40-ish Grace (Bonnie Hunt) is living with her mother Sheridan (Michael Learned, Ma Walton!), recovering from a suicide attempt of which they do not speak. Obsessed with the idea of locating the son she gave up for adoption at birth, Grace tries to get information from the adoption agency but eventually must hire an investigator who points her toward... Mark, who, we figure out, is the runaway son of Robert and Elizabeth.
The fact that these three stories take place in different years and are presented in time-shifted flashbacks and flash-forwards leads to multiple emotional punches, especially when Mark reveals he is HIV-positive. "Oh, no," you think as you start to parse out the all the possibilities that this fact implies.
Everyone shines throughout, especially the sad-eyed Kelly, the steel magnolia Harper, and Hunt, whose slow burn here is nothing like her usual comic stylings. The people, the settings, the problems all seem real. It's the kind of movie that makes you feel more like an eavesdropper than a viewer. Consider making it part of a double bill with the other great North Carolina family drama of 2005: Junebug.