Hudson Cash (Adam Ferguson) is a minor TV star who loses his television show, while back home in North Carolina his family's backyard circus is floundering. With few options, he heads back home to reunite with family and help out with the family circus. While Hudson is trying to figure out how to help his nearly bankrupt parents (played Eric Hartley and April Vickery), he develops a relationship with Ellie (Anne-Marie Kennedy), a clerk at the local balloon shop. Seemingly a good guy with a lot of talent, Hudson's problems are bigger than his canceled show and whether or not he can figure out how to deal with them may very well determine whether or not he gets another shot at doing what he loves the most.
Written and directed by North Carolina filmmaker Evan Kidd, Son of Clowns reminded me on some level of another indie flick from a few years back, Little Big Top. The film was shot exclusively in North Carolina and features a soundtrack of all North Carolina musicians along with a story that nicely weaves together bigger dreams with a North Carolina heart.
Son of Clowns has already had quite a bit of success on the film festival circuit including a recent win for Best Narrative Feature - Comedy at the Longleaf Film Festival along with prizes at Eastern North Carolina Film Festival (Best Actor for Ferguson and Best Actress for Kennedy) and Down East Flick Festival (1st Runner-Up, Best Dramatic Feature). The film is set to be released later this year on Amazon Prime.
Son of Clowns is one of those films that you find yourself watching late at night, maybe on Amazon Prime, when you're doing the household chores and want something to companion you along the way. After a few minutes, you find yourself paying more attention to the movie screen than you do the laundry because, well, this is a micro-budgeted gem that will likely not get the attention it deserves despite an involving story, a terrific cast and production values that transcend the film's modest budget.
Adam Ferguson gives us a compelling leading man, somewhat self-absorbed but never unworthy of our attention and involvement. Hudson is the kind of guy you root for even when he's being a jerk, though Ferguson adds an extra layer of humanity that makes everything in the film feel that much better as it transpires. As Ellie, Anne-Marie Kennedy gives the film an absolutely delightful spark and emotional boost. Kennedy's presence lights up the screen and draws you in so much that you find yourself threatening under your breath to kick Hudson's ass if he hurts her.
Eric Hartley and April Vickery are tremendously effective as Hudson's parents, while Paul Kilpatrick adds a layer of heart-filled humor as Jonah.
Lensing from Ned Phillips beautifully captures North Carolina and patiently lingers on the relationships while they play out, while the North Carolina-infused original soundtrack could easily stand alone yet plays perfectly with the film.
Son of Clowns is one of those wonderful little films that delivers a spark of humanity in the ups and downs of life and this entire journey that we call life. It's a good film. It's a film I found myself wanting to watch again even as the closing credits rolled by. It's a film where those characters seemed as real as the hopes and dreams that drive us to try again when life lets us down or when we let life down. While I call Son of Clowns a warm and winning film, rest assured that it's also an emotionally honest one that doesn't flinch when bad choices are made and consequences must be faced. I think it's called artistic integrity and it's a refreshing bow wrapped around this cinematic gift.
If you get a chance, and you will, check out Son of Clowns.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic