Starting this review has been one of the harder challenges I’ve had since I began adding articles to Nyrdcast. I first discovered this title on an article that listed the top documentaries currently on Netflix. I read many reviews which didn’t give away much detail about the topic the film covered, rather it caught my eye by the impact it had on each viewer. Review after review mentioned “best documentary I’ve seen” or “it’ll break your heart”. Typically well done documentaries will stir a reaction out of the viewer but not at the level of these quick recommendations. I put off watching the movie for quite a while because the picture I built up in my head was a real life version of “My Life” with Michael Keaton. “A letter to a son about his father” is the tagline attached to the movie. The combination of the reviews, the movie I pictured in my mind and that tag made it difficult to even want to start watching it because as a father of three myself, the thought of having to leave my story behind on film is almost overwhelming. But curiosity of a movie held in such high regard got the better of me.
Preconceived notions aside, the story woven by director and friend to the father in the movie, Kurt Kuenne, was something I could never imagine as fiction because the evil involved is too dark to bare. The background of the story begins with a group of friends you would imagine in Steven Spielberg movie or the group from Abrams movie “Super 8”. The focal character of the group and victim of the story, Dr. Andrew Bagby is the type of guy anybody could relate to or root for.
An Only child. Eagle Scout by the age of 15. Best man at just about every friends’ wedding. A doctor that found his calling in family practice. All characteristics and accomplishments of someone you’d imagine would live a full life. But tragically “Bag’s” was cut short by a deranged girlfriend. The evil in the movie is personified by Shirley Turner. Her actions are unimaginably dark and boggle the mind of any sane person. The details and depth of emotions caught by Kuenne as he presents the facts of what occurred and justification for his making the documentary are unmatched by any other I’ve seen.
Providing specific details in the documentary would take away the emotional impact anyone with a soul would feel by watching this tragedy unfold. It’s rare that a movie will move me to the point of choking up several times. Even more rare is watching a movie that this is one those where you stop whatever you thought you might be doing afterward and grab the attention of a friend or anyone that would listen, just so you could share with them what you just saw. I honestly didn’t want my wife to watch this movie and with good reason. The pain I could tell she felt as I spoke for about 3o minutes straight after watching the movie was written over her face. A mother having to endure the pain of the Bagby’s reality is overbearing.
But a movie rooted in this much raw, almost depressing emotion truly has two bright spots. David and Kate Babgy. Father, mother and grandparents whose strength rivals that of any I could fathom. Words would do no justice in describing their character and fortitude. The embodiment of a love that is tested in ways most could only try to imagine to match.
Don’t make the mistake I made in putting off in watching this. It will stick with you for a few days after watching it. Sometimes the tragedy of others, puts life into perspective we would otherwise take granted.