on October 14, 2005 by Jordan Reed
Tackling adoption, homosexuality and small-town mores, Tim Kirkman's "Loggerheads" is a message film delivered with subtlety and grace, not allowing its weighty subject matter to overshadow the quiet dignity of its characters.

Set in North Carolina, the film tells the tale of two mothers and the child they unwittingly share. Grace (Bonnie Hunt), a depressed middle-aged woman, lives with her own mother, and tries to locate the now-adult son she was pressured into giving up years before. Elizabeth (Tess Harper) is a preacher's wife struggling to keep up appearances after she and her husband (excellently played by Chris Sarandon) essentially drove their adopted son from their home upon learning of his homosexuality. Mark (Kip Pardue) has become a nomad after suffering the perceived rejection of his birth mother and the real rejection of his adoptive family. Mark temporarily lands in the comforting arms of George (Michael Kelly), the owner of a motel in a beach town who has suffered his own losses.

"Loggerheads" features an array of strong performances, most notably that of Bonnie Hunt. Known mostly for her comedic abilities, Hunt here displays Grace's profound sadness with remarkable tenderness. She works at a rental-car company, and watching her softly interrogate a customer who looks to be about the same age as her son in the fruitless hope that he could be hers makes one want to reach out and hug her for her regretted decision.

Unlike Phil Morrison's "Junebug," also shot in North Carolina but guilty of an overabundance of self-conscious quirk, "Loggerheads" opts against mildly stereotyping its subjects to achieve a Southern flavor. The result is a more universal, less trite and surprisingly powerful portrait of the region, along with the disparate, struggling individuals within it. Starring Kip Pardue, Tess Harper, Bonnie Hunt and Michael Kelly. Directed and written by Tim Kirkman. Produced by Gill Holland. A Strand release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 95 min

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