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Sam Now (2022)

What do you do when a mother goes missing? Do you accept the potential reality that she’s now in a better place (wherever that place may be)? Do you send out a search party? In the case of Sam and Reed Harkness, they become the search party–and they create a film spanning twenty-five years, covering their journey trying to find her. Sam Now tells this story. Will the brothers find her, or will she continue to exist only in memories?

Everyone loves a great mystery movie–one that makes you play along, to do everything that you can to try to find answers. With that it’s clear that Sam Now will find success, and it will appeal to the curious nature of human beings–however, the fact that Sam Now isn’t fiction, that it’s based on a real-life mystery surrounding a pretty close-knit family allows it the ability to appeal to viewers even more.

What Reed does throughout the production of Sam Now is compile a series of footage for decades worth of memories and experiences. How do you manage to figure out, from such a massive field of options, what makes it into the film? How do you organize a film of this magnitude? I can’t answer those questions, but Reed has apparently managed to have found an answer to each. His patience, tenacity, and clear passion transcend the entirety of Sam Now, and without him this film would, very literally, never have come to be.

What I cannot, to any degree, wrap my head around is the fact that even after Sam’s mother Joyce has abandoned this family for years, they don’t seem to hold any grudges whatsoever. This aspect of the film extends itself, and it creates some degree of separation between viewer and content. The Harkness family seems to be void of what many would consider appropriate emotion. As they navigate this harrowing journey, rarely do viewers see them react with raw emotion. Sam Now as a whole isn’t void of emotion, but I can’t understand how this family isn’t pissed, even years later. How have they managed to accept this situation for what it is? How can they look struggle in the eye like this and rarely wince? Sam Now is a beautiful film about familial reunion, but I can’t wrap my mind around this aspect of it–and, again, it creates some sense of separation.

Sam Now depicts a beautiful journey, and it does so using so much footage that spans the course of twenty-five years. The relationship between Sam and Reed is the star of the show, as it reminds viewers of the bond that family members can have, but it also touches on the importance of cinema. Something incredibly interesting about Sam Now is the fact that it forced me to ask so many questions. It really forced me to think about life and to consider some of the more serious questions that lurk in the shadows, the ones that we often refuse to face. There are moments of disconnect that stem from the families sometimes lack of emotion, but the film as a whole possesses a relevance that should be able to reach out and touch viewers.

Directed by Reed Harkness.

Starring Sam Harkness, Jared Harkness, Reed Harkness, Randy Harkness, Ned Harkness, etc.



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