In the Wake of Ire is a special film precisely because it's an emotionally intelligent film, a film that takes tragedy and journeys through it with a courage and transparency that is largely not present in films these days. Writer/director Brian Maurer has written a story that matters, that feels personal for the characters and audience alike, and he's brought it to life in a way that lingers in your psyche' in a way that feels rich and authentic and honest.
In the film, Gregory Sporleder is Benjamin Lovell, who one imagines was once a loving father and adoring husband but who has been drowning in the ever intrusive memory of a past mistake for so long that one can't help but wonder if the brokenness can be repaired. We're introduced to that tragedy slowly, patiently because In the Wake of Ire isn't about the tragedy but about the people involved in that tragedy and how it has defined their lives. After a 20+ year estrangement, Benjamin is reunited with his daughter, Rosemary (Whitney Morgan Cox) but at first it's not so much a reunion as it is two strangers whose paths cross. Rosemary doesn't remember him, an absence that comes courtesy of a severe head injury incurred in childhood that has had lifelong repercussions including this 20+ year estrangement and the fracture of Benjamin's marriage to Laura (Meagan English).
Benjamin, I guess we can call him Ben, leads a quiet life in a quiet town where he largely avoids anything resembling human connection. It's pretty clear from early on that this is his punishment, self-inflicted, and an appropriate way to keep emotions and experiences at bay that seem impossible to resolve. This works for Ben, at least until Rosemary crosses his path again and can't remember who he is and what he's done.
They grow closer, Benjamin holding the truth within him even as Rosemary's loneliness in a brand new town fosters a spark of relationship that adds tension to tension.
Sporleder is strong here, his years-long fatigue as much emotional as it is physical. He doesn't demand instant redemption as is so commonly found in Hollywood variations of this type of motion picture. As seems appropriate for a man who is uncommonly quiet, Sporleder's Ben simply stays present and absorbs everything around him. It's never really even completely sure that Ben wants any kind of redemption or that he can convince himself that he deserves it, but there's a sense of duty about his presence that feels honest and feels authentic.
He stays. He listens. He learns. He understands.
Meagan English is extraordinary as Laura, whom one can see with Ben because she has that same sense of duty quiet presence. She aches and she's torn between that long festering longing for her daughter and her still strong feelings for a husband who has spiraled into self-destruction. It's a complex role brought beautifully to life by English.
As Rosemary, Whitney Morgan Cox embodies a different kind of woundedness and vulnerability that is aching to see and immersive to experience. She's learned how to live with her head injury, though survival is ever fragile and Cox's Rosemary seems to know it and fight against it. It's a simple, magnificent performance that one can't help but remember long after the closing credits.
Samuel Ott's lensing is simultaneously pristine yet raw, sort of a glimpsing of what is and what could be. At times, that difference is almost jarring yet one can't help but feel like Ott's camera is drawing these characters into a different, clearer light.
In the Wake of Ire is the kind of indie gem that is a blast to find at an indie film fest. Filmed entirely in Missouri, the film rests upon the talent of its cast and crew rather than on the ability to edit it all into perfection. In the Wake of Ire looks and feels as honest as the characters whose stories are being told.
For more information on In the Wake of Ire, visit the film's official website linked to in the credits. For more information on Indy Film Fest, visit the Indy Film Fest website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic