Flesh and Blood SXSW Review: A Shocking Look at One Man's Fractured Family
Sometimes a movie comes along that very quietly defies comparison, even if on the surface, it is something quite simple. Such is the case with director Mark Webber's latest movie Flesh and Blood. While this completely unique and quiet, yet powerful family drama may not be one of the most flashy movies at SXSW this year, make no mistake, this is a movie you will be hearing about over the next few months and one that you should most definitely seek out.
Flesh and Blood centers on Mark Webber, who is playing a version of himself as he explores family dynamics using his real family which includes his mother Cheri Honkala and his brother Guillermo Santos. We follow Mark as he tries to adjust to the real world after being released from prison. Blending real-life situations and fiction (though the line between fiction and reality is very blurry), the movie follows his family's journey through discovering just how broken it is and doing their best to try and repair it.
Don't get me wrong, as a moviegoer I adore summer blockbusters and popcorn movies. They are my bread and butter and I'm not entirely sure I'll ever get tired of watching superheroes beat up bad guys or watching aliens/monsters wreak havoc on humanity. That said, it is not lost on me when I see something of quality that is much closer to real life that Isn't High-budget escapism. Flesh and Blood is something that tells a familiar story on the surface; a man trying to put his life together while dealing with complicated family issues and reconciling with the demons of his past. What person can't relate to that on some level? But what makes Flesh and Blood so unique and makes it resonate is that this is Mark interacting with members of his real family. That is really his mom. That is really his brother. Those are really people he grew up with. It is impossible not to notice. The realness seeps through in a way that just wouldn't be possible with a cast full of recognizable actors. So many feelings.
If you have a little brother or little sister, you will feel something when you see Mark Interacting with Guillermo on screen. If you have any kind of relationship with your mom or you are yourself a mother, you will feel something when you see Cheri doing what every good mom tries to do, which is what she thinks is right for her family. There are so many silent moments with Cheri throughout Flesh and Blood that say so much. It feels almost too real at times. That is probably because I can assume it was too real at times for the cast of this movie. This isn't just a story for them. It's real. The movie isn't really a documentary, but it blurs the line enough that it feels as though someone turned a light on in a room that you aren't necessarily supposed to be shining a light on. Not that it feels wrong to watch it because it is ultimately a movie, but what is happening on screen is so palpable that things can get a little visceral for the viewer.
People often complain about the lack of original movies and the lack of original ideas in the modern Hollywood landscape. Mark Webber is a creator who is making original movies and Flesh and Blood is cold, hard proof of that. It is a very unique and super touching movie that should be seen. So, those of you who want to see more original movies need to do your part and seek this movie out. See Flesh and Blood. This movie deserves an audience. Creativity at this level deserves to be rewarded and it deserves eyeballs on it beyond those packed into theaters at a festival. This is a damn fine film.