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The Independent Critic

C. Andrew Garrison, Talia Liccardello, Marc Wayne, Joicie Appell, Turner Baietto, Jeff East
Stephen Wallace Pruitt
Mary Settle Pruitt, Stephen Wallace Pruitt
165 Mins.

 Movie Review: Terminal 
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Indie director Stephen Wallace Pruitt, always working collaboratively alongside wife Mary Settle Pruitt, has been in the indie film world now for right around 15 years having started his journey while still in the academic world. With films such as Works in Progress, The Tree, The Land, and State of Grace, Pruitt has become known as a filmmaker able to maximize ultra-low budgets to create simple, meaningful motion pictures immersed in universal themes. 

It would be deceptive to call Terminal his latest film. In fact, it was his second project and began its life as an intended miniseries. While creatively that may have been satisfying and Pruitt himself cites Terminal as one of his most personally meaningful efforts,  as a miniseries Terminal simply never found its intended audience despite finding life on Amazon's Prime Video and with indie distributor Green Apple Entertainment. 

Heck, it even almost found life with faith and family-based distributor Pure Flix. That also simply wasn't to be. 

Terminal is a unique project. It's both exactly like Pruitt's other films yet also more complex and more ambitious. I could easily see it as a miniseries, though if I'm being honest I doubt if I'd have cared for it that way. It's not a particularly difficult film to figure out, though Pruitt himself reports laughing when the folks at Green Apple decided to market the film as a crime drama. 

For the record, it's FAR from a crime drama. 

Terminal stars C. Andrew Garrison and Talia Liccardello in what is best described as a redemptive love story, a quiet tale with moments of drama yet far more moments of hope-filled romance, mystery, and pure heart. Shot in Pruitt's hometown of Kansas City, Terminal centers around a big city prosecutor (Garrison) and a woman he inexplicably picks up at an airport and invites into his home. That woman, beautifully portrayed by Talia Liccardello, is a tremendous mystery and it likely says a lot about contemporary audiences that we keep expecting it to be far more than it ever really becomes. Shot in over 100 locations, a rarity for a Pruitt film, Terminal is far more visually appealing than one might expect for a low-budget indie. The Pruitts themselves held a variety of roles for the film, a reality they have largely maintained throughout their 15 years of independent filmmaking. Daughters Rebecca and Barri also held significant roles throughout the production. 

This is very much a family production, a significant fact when you realize that Pruitt has identified the personal nature of the film in a myriad of ways. Paul Rudy's exquisite composition for the film is one of the few extraneous roles behind-the-scenes, a wonderful addition that helps companion the film's emotional rhythms. 

If there's something refreshing with the film it's that Pruitt allows illness to be dignified. This is no Me Before You, a film I'm known to loathe and a film that is disrespectful to all involved. 

That said, Terminal is a difficult film. While the Pruitts have moved away from the project as miniseries, as a feature film it still runs just a bit shy of a three hour running time and is devoid of sex and contains no true action sequences. It's a quiet, reflective drama for discerning audiences wishing for a more adult drama. The film's most recognizable name would be Jeff East, a Kansas City native and former child star. 

Pruitt acknowledges that Terminal is a hard sell. It’s an end-of-life love story with no sex, no real action.The story is co-written by the Pruitts and touches personal areas of Stephen's life best left unrevealed here. It also started a collaboration between the Pruitts and the wonderful Joicie Appell that would exist until her passing in 2022 at the age of 93. 

She was such a gift. 

The performances here are strong but never showy. Garrison is always dependable and the same is true here. Liccardello possesses a compassionate charisma that draws you in and doesn't let you go. There are other indie actors whose works I've reviewed over the years such as Chris Bylsma, Sharon Wright, Anita Cordell, and others. 

Currently available for rent on Prime Video, Terminal is finding new life as a feature film and will hopefully find the audience it deserves as an intelligent, redemptive adult drama with patient storytelling and characters with whom you can relate. Check it out if you get the chance. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic