Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review: Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father (2008)

When I sat down one unassuming Wednesday night with my wife to check out this film, I already knew what to expect from it because I had read a lot about it online: “It will break your heart.”  “It’s the saddest film you will ever see.”  “You will cry buckets.”  “The events of this story are completely unfathomable.”  And, although I usually believe everything I read on the internet, I dismissed these comments as mere hyperbole.  I mean, surely it can’t be sooooooo unbelievably heartbreaking, right?


If you haven’t heard of it, this story is basically a love-letter to the family of Dr. Andrew Bagby, who was murdered by his girlfriend Shirley Turner.  The filmmaker was a close friend of Andrew’s and he wanted to make it as a way for Andrew’s son, Zachary, to know his father through interviews of family and friends.  Doesn’t sound like it could be that sad, right?  Well, here’s a brief running diary of my emotions throughout the 90-minute film.                                        

0:20: Small lump in throat, not looking at wife because I know she’s already shedding a tear or two which will make it harder for me not to.

0:42: First inkling of a tear rolls down cheek.  Man card=REVOKED. 

0:57: Tennis ball-sized lump in throat, beginning to reach “death of my childhood dog when I was 12” status. 

1:10:  Tears accumulating in rapid fashion; beginning to flow steadily.  All bets are off at this point. 

1:25:  Pools running out of blood-shot eyes; blubbering; wailing; snot everywhere; hugging wife and dog.

1:30: Film ends.  Repeat above for 30 more minutes. 

So I think that paints a pretty accurate picture of what this film is capable of doing to you.  As far as the quality of the film, it’s not a prototypical documentary in that it’s not so much an investigative journalism as much as a home-video from one friend to the family of another; the editing is somewhat overbearing at some points and the music heavy-handed; but because of the personal nature of the story and the downright tragedy of the actual events, this is easy to forgive.  I highly recommend exercising your lacrimal glands and giving this one a shot. 

**Thanks to fellow film-buff Taylor S. for turning me on to this film.**


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. Just watched it. I've said it before and I'll say it again... some stories are just too sad to share. Heartbreaking.

Steve said...

I just watched this movie with my wife and I was completely overwhelmed with emotion, never has a movie had such an impact.

Thomas Watson said...

This story is just an incredibly sad tragedy.