When people feel they’ve been wronged by another/others, they inevitably wish for someone to make amends; that is reparation. When Bob (Menchaca) is discharged from the Air Force, he seems to have PTSD and a three-year memory gap. One day, when Lucy (Newcomb) comes across him wandering down a road she stops to give him a ride. After teasing flirtations and Lucy’s realization that he is a good—albeit damaged—man, they marry and have a child, Charlotte (Thomas). Everything seems to be working out well until a stranger (Huertas) suddenly appears on a motorcycle. Jerome has an investment in uncovering Bob’s memory, but we’re not told why until the end of the film.
A kind of occult theme running through the story is Charlotte’s uncanny ability to draw pictures that trigger her father’s memories. These drawings are precipitated by nightmares that seem to give her information about Bob. For instance, without being introduced to him, she knows the stranger’s name is Jerome, and she is left with the sense that he is dangerous. Lucy is repelled by him altogether, and is always trying to get rid of him. But something in Bob gives him pause in sending the man away.
A mysterious figure, a young boy, appears to Bob throughout the story, giving him pep talks and reassuring him. This also seems to tie in with the occult. The child is incorporated into another character toward the end, and even merged by Bob with Charlotte when he is in a panic state, all of which makes the boy’s identity rather confusing.
Through flashbacks, we piece together the relationship between Bob and Jerome, the importance of a third figure, a Colonel Atreus, the source of the conflict between Bob and Jerome, and the nature of the information Jerome so desperately pursues.
The film is good in leading us up to this point and keeping us engaged in the mystery. Menchaca is very fine at portraying the slightly mystified veteran who is not the kind to ruminate about his past and seek insight and information. He appears to have accepted the memory gap so that it is troubling only at times. Nor does it bother his wife Lucy very much—she thinks he is fine the way he is and she only has emotional outbursts toward Jerome, aptly played as a threatening figure by Kellar.
The story in Reparation does not always mesh together logically and sometimes seems internally contradictory, but it is interesting and mysterious enough to hold the viewer’s attention. It’s a small independent film by first-time director Kyle Ham and co-written by him and Steve Timm. It is being screened at film festivals, including the Houston Cinema Arts Festival where I saw it.
A mystery about an Air Force veteran with a three-year memory gap.
Grade: C By Donna R. Copeland