The Lair family had a father who hurt for the brokenness in
his family, who carried his family through hard times, and who mapped
out and provided a journey through which his family could find healing
from their pain, forgiveness from their guilt, and restoration to
a life free of brokenness.
(2004) Film Review
page was created on October 25, 2004
This page was last updated on
December 11, 2004
—Review by Darrel
with Darrel Manson
—Review by Elisabeth
this Film pdf file
Dial up modems will take a few moments
by Jordan Roberts
Written by Jordan Roberts
(in credits order)
Michael Caine .... Henry Lair
Jonah Bobo .... Zach Lair
Josh Lucas .... Jason Lair
Glenne Headly .... Katrina
Christopher Walken .... Turner Lair
David Eigenberg .... John
Mark Gill .... executive producer
Julie Kirkham .... producer
Elliott Lewitt .... producer
Ron Smith .... executive producer
Bob Yari .... executive producer
Cinematography by Michael Grady
Film Editing by Françoise Bonnot
MPAA: Rated R language.
Runtime: USA:85 min
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM,
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG
Various Artists - Soundtrack - 2004
1. Opening - David Baerwald
2. Roll Away the Stone - Leon Russell
3. Daddy's Song
4. Bags - David Baerwald
5. Even a Prisoner Can Dream
6. Carmelita - Warren Zevon
7. Major - David Baerwald
8. On the Road Again - Bob Dylan
9. Hi Ho Silver - Fleetwood Mac
10. Old Shoes
11. Staircase/Turner's Death - David Baerwald
12. Song for You - Leon Russell
13. Some Day When You're Young Again
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the Bend” is inspired by the relationship between writer-director
Jordan Roberts and the absentee father he barely knew. It tells the
story of four generations of men who are suddenly brought together
by the chance to uncover the truth about their family’s past.
The journey will take them out on the road to a world full of surprises
-- some comic, some dramatic, and all of them personal.
Jason Lair (Josh Lucas) is a simple man with a simple wish: a normal
life. This isn’t an easy goal for the mild-mannered bank employee:
Jason is newly separated from his wife, who has left him to care
for their six-year-old son Zach (Jonah Bobo) while she paints in
Nepal, and his ailing grandfather Henry (Oscar winner Michael Caine),
a former archaeologist close to death, is investigating alternative
rituals for his impending funeral (“I’m not going in
the ground!” he protests.) So when Jason’s estranged
father and Henry’s son Turner (Oscar winner Christopher Walken),
whose checkered past includes exploits from the musical to the criminal,
pays the family an unexpected visit, nothing is ‘simple’
or ‘normal’ in Jason’s life anymore.
In the coming days, the somewhat reluctant Lair men will embark
on a trip not only through the mythic beauty of the Desert Southwest,
but across the family’s own rocky emotional landscape. Forced
together by a deep loss, these very different people find a great
deal along the way -- devastating secrets, amazing discoveries and,
just as Henry wanted... each other.
Artesia Christian Church, Artesia, CA
Darrel has an incredible love and interest in the cinematic arts.
His reviews usually include independent and significantly important
Lair was an archaeologist. Even on his deathbed he keeps wanting
to go with his grandson Jason and great-grandson Zach on one last
dig. When his long lost son (and Jason's long lost father) shows
up, Henry lays a plot to send them on a road trip to spread his
ashes at key places along the way. Will the trip give these men
the chance to get beyond the past?
Around the Bend is in some ways a tweaking and
retelling of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
There are a number of small connections to the parable for those
who look for them. In that parable, a man has two sons, the younger
one takes his share of the inheritance, leaves home, and squanders
his money on high living. The older brother stays home, working
for his father. When bad times come to the younger brother, he resolves
to go home to ask his father for a job. Before he even gets to the
door, the father greets him and starts planning a welcome home party.
The older brother comes home to see this and is distraught that
his father is treating this worthless son so well.
The parable is tweaked by the film by giving the character of the
older brother in the parable to the son of the prodigal in the movie.
Jason is the one who has stood by his grandfather in times of need.
Not out of obligation, but out of love for the man who raised him,
since his father has been out of his life since he was a small boy.
Jason is extremely resentful of Turner's presence. Jason has considered
Turner dead for many years.
The story also moves beyond the parable, giving us a look at the
parable's two brothers after the father's death. Will the father's
love for each of them give them enough in common to hold them together
in spite of their animosity? Can the "older brother" even accept
the returned prodigal? Will the prodigal change his life with this
In the film Turner, Jason and Zach end up heading out to Henry's
old haunts in an ugly and ancient VW bus. Henry has planned the
route, giving them places of meaning to spread a spoonful of his
ashes. Along the way walls are built, torn down, and rebuilt. It's
not easy to overcome the years of separation.
At one of the stops, some old Native American ruins, after spreading
the ashes, Turner reminisces with Jason about being on digs with
Henry. As Turner put it, "He liked to dig up old shit." And as they
travel together, we see that Henry has designed the trip to dig
up the emotional "old shit" of the family's life. It is only through
that digging that there can be any hope of forgiveness or reconciliation.
Such emotional archaeology is not easy. The things found may be
treasure or may be trash. It may help the men understand each other
or may drive them further apart. Neither of the adult men wants
to make this trip or go through the emotional artifacts of their
lives. Jason keeps wanting to know why Turner abandoned him and
never made contact with him or with Henry. Turner keeps wanting
to live in the present, not looking back at the mistakes in the
past that are over and gone. But out of respect and love for Henry
(plus some financial incentive from Henry's estate) they keep at
it until they come to the real issue that divides them, one that
Jason doesn't even know about.
This story is about more than getting to know each other, even more
than being able to reestablish a family bond. It is a story about
how one forgives others and how one forgives oneself. It is a story,
in the end, that reminds us that even unforgivable actions need
to be dealt with. The injuries of the past live inside both the
injured and the one doing the injury. It is only through honestly
dealing with these pains that forgiveness in some form can be found.
Around the Bend reminds us that the pains and animosities
that we harbor in our lives do not have to stay there. There's plenty
of digging for us to do.
with Darrel Manson
by ELISABETH LEITCH
Elisabeth Leitch is a graduate of the University
of California San Diego with a BA in Literature-Writing. A person
who has always loved movies, she never ceases to be amazed with the
way movies impact viewers by both reflecting and asking questions
about the culture and world in which we live. Currently, Elisabeth
spends her days working in a local bookstore and seeking what God
has in store for her future. She has also worked as a reporter/writer
for the Los Alamos Monitor and the New Mexico Business Journal.
the moment we are born until the moment we die, life is a journey.
More than just the present, it is everything that is our past and
whatever could be, might be, ought to be our future, as well. It is
the good and the bad, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes dangerous,
sometimes boring, but always moving forward onto the next day, the
next year, the next milestone. Sometimes, however, it seems that journey
must stop. Something interrupts, something stops us in our tracks,
and all we can do is look back at the journey that is behind us and
ask ourselves what it is that has been driving our lives and defining
who we are.
In the movie Around the Bend, three men and one boy
must face this journey called life: its good times, its bad times,
and the reality that their journeys have intersected. With the patriarch
of the Lair family on his deathbed, Around the Bend
begins with four generations of men being brought together for the
first time since Turner (Christopher Walken) abandoned his son Jason
(Josh Lucas) and left him to be raised by his father Henry (Michael
Caine). For Jason's six-year-old son Zach, it is the first time he
has met the grandfather he thought was dead. For Jason, the reunion
is awkward, unexpected, unwanted. For Turner, it is simply something
he has to do, quickly, not dealing with more than the present demands,
then ready with a planned exit. For Henry, however, it is not only
his dying wish but his desire for a restoration and a healing that
he has no intention of allowing to die along with him.
So, in the hours before his death, Henry ensures that the remaining
Lair men will take one last journey together; instead of asking for
a normal funeral, he turns the scattering of his ashes into a road
trip which will take his son, grandson, and great-grandson to the
places that meant something to him during his life. More than just
a look back at his own life, however, Henry also sets Turner and Jason
up for an experience in which they must confront the events that have
defined their lives and decide if those are the events that they want
to continue to define who they are.
Taking the three Lair men to sites clearly centered on times of joy
and love shared with others, Henry prods Turner and Lucas to let those
kinds of moments define their lives. Leading Turner and Lucas to a
site that embodies the guilt, shame, and resentment that rest between
them, Henry's words telling Turner to confess what happened there
highlight how much guilt and pain can define who we are; then, in
his note telling Jason to forgive Turner, Henry speaks to the freedom
that rests in forgiveness. While the journey is difficult, messy,
and one that neither Turner nor Jason particularly want to face, they
make it to the end and continue on, the truth of the brokenness within
and between them brought to the surface, forgiveness bringing them
together and filling the holes that had been inside them for so many
While Around the Bend is no action packed suspense,
no sensational new story that no one has ever heard of before, and
no laugh-aloud comedy that leaves you rolling in the aisles, the story
presented in Around the Bend is both unique and powerful
in that it is so real. It portrays a journey of self-discovery and
healing, but it refuses to do so through fake monologues and sappy
emotional confessions that occur only in the movies. Between Turner
and Jason, the discomfort and strain reflected in all of their actions
reflect the pain and complication of damaged relationships with the
assistance of very few words. As the pain between them slowly begins
to come to the surface and fall away, they do not waste time with
words they don't need to say, but simply continue on their trip, more
at ease with themselves and consciously choosing to continue on and
help each other on the journey ahead. Dealing with a situation that
is in and of itself strange, the story and the actors also portray
the subtle kind of comedy that cannot help but surface in the day-to-day
strangeness of trying to get through and deal with life.
More than just addressing the pain and struggle of a son estranged
from a father, however, Around the Bend also truly
hits a nerve that connects with the pain and regret that dwell in
so many relationships of all kinds. It reveals the toll pain can take
on the lives of both a person who has been hurt and the person who
has hurt him or her. It speaks to the need to heal people in pain
and restore broken relationships. Most of all, it speaks to the truth
that the pain and hurt of our past need not be things that define
us for the rest of our lives and that we need not overcome it all
on our own.
On this journey that is each of our own lives, the reality is that
we all have things that we regret, things that weigh us down with
guilt, things that fill us with shame. Like any trip, life isn't all
Disneyland vacations and Caribbean cruises. Life is good one minutes,
and then five minutes later it is horrible. Life is fun, and then
two days later, it is unbearable. No matter how hard we try to live
a "good" life, we will let ourselves and others down. Fortunately,
as the Lair family discovers, we need not let our downfalls define
who we are or the life we live. By recognizing that we can be forgiven
and by forgiving the things and people that define our brokenness,
we can let every memory of hurt and pain go and instead choose to
define ourselves and our lives by old and new memories of love, joy,
While this life may be a long, winding, bumpy journey, the reality
is that more than a journey along a road, this life is a journey of
people, of intersecting lives and actions, of family, of friends,
and of helping each other along the way. In the same way that the
Lair family had a father who hurt for the brokenness in his family,
who carried his family through hard times, and who mapped out and
provided a journey through which his family could find healing from
their pain, forgiveness from their guilt, and restoration to a life
free of brokenness, we too have a Father and a Savior ready to carry
us through hard times, ready to help us come to terms with the things
that fill us with pain, and just waiting to offer us forgiveness and
set us back on a journey defined by love and joy instead of pain and
emptiness. The question is: Are we willing to trust and follow the
His map or not?
ON THIS FILM
with Darrel Manson
I will not post these comments.
What are your personal thoughts? I also welcome your spiritual
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within two weeks.
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