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The Independent Critic

Maxwell Myers, Jennifer Johnson, Adam Whittington, Donald Russell, Kyle LaCross II, Timothy Pornoy, Alexis Arletta Jones, Paige Gallagher, K.C. Pena, Michael Owens, Blake Everett, TJ Wong, Sionne Elise, Jonathon Lamer, Nolan Pugh, Ben Cohn, Meghan D. Coates, J.G. Murphy, Aaron Seeks, Harrison Xu, Jayme Andrews, Gregory Glaser (Narration)
J.G. Murphy, Nolan Pugh
J.G. Murphy, Nolan Pugh 
96 Mins.

 Movie Review: Garthwaite: A Film by Ben Kurns 
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There were several thoughts I had while watching J.G. Murphy and Nolan Pugh's inspired Garthwaite: A Film by Ben Kurns. 

First off, I couldn't help but think about the countless times I've sat myself down in front of a streaming channel, say something like History Channel, and immersed myself in some obscure but engaging documentary absolutely trusting that the information I was receiving was absolutely trustworthy. 

I also, of course, couldn't help but think of at least one of the obvious inspirations for Garthwaite, one Ken Burns, the acclaimed documentarian almost universally regarded as one of the very best in the biz. 

However, for the most part, I simply gave myself to the entertaining and engaging film that claims to tell the story of one Rufus Zechariah Garthwaite (Nolan Pugh), whose influence on America in the early 20th century is undeniable and whose presidency, yes presidency, at seven minutes may be lost to the history books (Who needs history books anyway?) but whose impact continues to ripple. 

I hesitate to call Garthwaite a mockumentary because, quite honestly, there's actually very little mocking going on. It's certainly not a mockumentary in the traditional sense, though one can certainly, if paying attention, catch a myriad of winks throughout the film's 96-minute running time. However, if Garthwaite were a film you were watching some late Saturday night while doing the laundry I'd dare say you could easily listen to it from beginning to end without ever catching wind that this most fascinating story is, well, a little suspect in terms of the facts. 

Born to railroad tycoon Randolph Beauregard Garthwaite (Jonathon Lamer), Rufus was pretty much a bit odd from the get go and never quite won his father's affections as did elder brother Reginald. Reginald's untimely death led to Rufus being shipped off to military school, for which he was ill-suited, though this is where he would meet lifelong friend Tacitus Clements (J.G. Murphy). Along the way of his life journey, one could possibly propose an almost Forrest Gumpian collection of accomplishments and pursuits that would all sort of lead him toward the most unusual direction of all - the presidency. 

Garthwaite is beautifully constructed with a talented, incredibly precise ensemble. Presented engagingly in very much a traditional feature doc structure, Garthwaite features several wonderful performances ranging from Pugh's turn as the title subject to Adam Whittington's work as Richard Fleeb, PhD, Sionne Elise as Kimberly Cambridgerton, Timothy Portnoy as Edwin John Fairweather III, Jayme Andrews as Hugh Atchison, Paige Gallagher as an alleged descendant of Garthwaite, and Kyle LaCross II as Brian Hamperdell among others. Truthfully, it's a strong ensemble across the board. 

Currently on its indie fest circuit, Garthwaite is a unique and inspired cinemattic journey that should prove to be popular with those seeking something a little more outside the box. With intelligent, inspired storytelling and a terrific ensemble cast bringing the story to life, Garthwaite: A Film by Ben Kurns is definitely a film to check out when you get the chance. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic