Inspired by the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, the Indiana-made faith-based drama Timbertown is a thought-provoking and emotionally honest motion picture from the father-son filmmaking team of Jacob and Adam Dufour. Working alongside producers T.L. Bridger and Daniel Cleghorn, The Dufours have quietly built Amor Domini, a small yet meaningful cinematic ministry that tackles difficult subjects authentically yet always grounded deeply within their faith.
They started their movie-making journey in 2013 with the a 60-minute film called The Redemption of Benjamin Black, a film they all four made for their church's annual fair ministry that led to the even more successful short film Forward Until Found in 2015. They found even greater success with their first true feature film Andy's Rainbow, a film that starred SNL alum Victoria Jackson which has won or been nominated for nearly 40 awards at fests nationwide. Most recently, their feature film To Be a Soldier (originally released under the title Sinjar) was picked up by Inspired Family Entertainment for a nationwide DVD release that included nationwide Wal-Mart placement.
Timbertown is their latest feature film, a quirky character-driven drama in which the lives of three people intertwine as their small town deals with the mysterious death of a not quite beloved local preacher.
The central themes of the book of Ecclesiastes are sprinkled throughout Timbertown, themes that will be easily evident for those familiar with the book yet themes also likely to be evident whether you're familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes or not.
Burl Axsom (Adam Dufour) is a workaholic logger who's convinced that his long days and nights are the only way he can successfully provide for his wife (Angela Duggins) and daughter.
Officer Ned Pearson (Cory Kays) is a smooth-talking, Shakespeare quoting DNR officer who's more concerned with matters of the mind than matters of the heart or spirit.
Lola Mae Tyson (Eleanor Brown) is a grieving widow whose story unfolds later in the film yet is essential to how lives intertwine and the book of Ecclesiastes so beautifully comes to life throughout Timbertown.
Timbertown had its festival premiere at Terre Haute, Indiana's Dreams Come True Film Festival where it picked up eight award nominations and Adam Dufour came home with the Best Actor prize while Eleanor Brown snagged the Best Actress prize.
Both wins were well deserved.
The action that unfolds in Timbertown takes place in the fictional midwestern town of New Mansopelea, a logging community with precisely one church and a whole lot more quirks. Filmed in Indiana's Washington County, Timbertown is acutely aware that even the smallest town has its secrets.
Adam Dufour makes for a stoic yet simmering presence as Burl, the kind of guy who takes providing for his family seriously yet can too easily forget that while paying the bills is nice it's actually him his family wants. This is a role that stretched Durfour as an actor and he was more than up to the task, serving up a performance that is strong with just a hint of vulnerability and quiet sensitivity.
As Officer Pearson, Cory Kays gives Timbertown some of its most poignant and light-hearted moments with his incessant need to quote Shakespeare at the most inappropriate times and his unhealthy curiosity that undeniably gets the best of him. Kays is marvelous here and gives a performance that is energized and gives the film a definite spark.
It could be said that Eleanor Brown's turn as Lola Mae is the heart n' soul of Timbertown, a performance so aching with truth and honesty that you can't help but marvel at it. There's not a false note in in the script, no small accomplishment given how much we grow to care about Brown's Lola Mae.
There are other strong performances throughout Timbertown, from David Ross's fantastic work as the town's wiser than you think he is hobo to Angela Duggins as Genevieve Axsom to Daniel Main's rather uncomfortable yet effective performance as ill-fated preacher Randall Cunningham. Rachel Casey-Dufour has a terrific scene opposite Kays' Officer Pearson, while young Sophie Davis hits a homer as the sassy Maybelline.
Original music by Jacob Dufour and Caleb Martin is practically a character unto itself and lends the film an emotional foundation that deepens its drama, while Daniel Cleghorn's lensing for the film magnificently captures the film's rural setting and isn't afraid to linger even in the film's most uncomfortable silences.
Timbertown isn't a crossover film. It's an undeniably faith-based film that sets itself within the very real lives of the residents of one rural community and it brings the book of Ecclesiastes to life in ways big and small. For those seeking an unwavering film about faith and the realities of everyday life, Timbertown is an Indiana made film worth checking out. Watch for it at a festival or screening near you.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic