Wow. Wow. Prodigal Sons is a stunning, jaw dropping look at family, adoption, severe trauma, sexual orientation, gender and ultimately what is and how we define our identity. Using her gifts as a filmmaker Kimberly Reed gives us an intimate, evolving story about the nature of identity and the meaning of family.
When Kimberly Reed returns to her hometown of Helena, Montana after the death of her father for her 20th class reunion, her high school classmates will be seeing her truly for the first time. In high school, Kim Reed was “Paul” co-captain of the football team, class president. Only after moving away, first to college at U.C. Berkeley and then to San Francisco, could Kim become herself.
Along with seeing her classmates, this will be the first time in ten years Kim has had contact with her brother Marc, who was adopted less than a year before Kim was born. Because of his hyper-activity in pre-school, Marc was held back a grade and was always in the same class as his younger sibling, one of many of his resentments that hover close to the surface. This is the first time Marc will meet Kim as truly Kim.
Marc is a gifted pianist, a prodigy who can sit down at the piano and create beautiful melodies. That skill remains after a severe car accident at age 21 that left him with seizures requiring brain surgery, affecting his mood, making him often violent and erratic. Married now and with a daughter, Marc is propelled by Kim’s self-discovery and makes the decision to discover who he really is by finding his birth mother. The result–that he is illegitimate son of Rebecca Welles, the daughter of Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles–seems at first to alter his life in a positive way, especially when Kim joins him and his family on a trip to Croatia to meet Oja Kodar, Welles’ companion for the last two decades of his life. While the trip brings Kim and Marc closer together, their relationship may not survive Marc’s mental problems which repeatedly erupt in violence.
Kim didn’t know what would evolve when she set out to film her coming out and reunion with Marc, and what develops is organic, honest and heartbreakingly real as a family copes with loss, change, the past and the future.