Dir. Timothy Hall, USA, 2021, 82 min.

Screening virtually at SECCA on Saturday, May 15 @ 8:30 p.m. Learn more here.

Timothy Hall’s Landlocked puts a twist on an old trope. Plenty of movies exists about sons looking to reconnect with estranged parents. But in this feature film, the parent is transgender.

Landlocked is Hall’s second film to star actors Dustin Gooch and Ashlee Heath. This one features Gooch as Nick, husband to Heath’s Abby and father to young Davis, struggling after the death of his mother. That tragedy is the catalyst for Nick to reconnect with Briana, who left when he was very young.

Briana, played by transgender actor Delia Kropp, emerges as a fully fleshed out, complex character through her relationship with her son and through glimpses of her past. Throughout the film, she is seen struggling to reconnect with Nick in the present, despite their past which has been marred by internalized transphobia and bad parenting.

In watching the film, the viewer might, however, wish they knew more about the characters. Landlocked offers bits and pieces of Nick as the film progresses — that he is selfish, that he struggles with transphobia, that he cares deeply for his own son — but there’s still a distance throughout the movie that makes it difficult to empathize with his character.

For much of the movie, we are left wondering why Nick reached out to Briana at all, even though he says it is because his wife told him to. The same thing goes for Briana and her motivations for acting. For example, Nick brings up to his wife that he isn’t sure how Briana has remained religious through everything, but we never get the answer.

Likewise, the film struggles at times to find the point. The viewer begins with Nick and his journey to open a restaurant, but we don’t learn about Briana or their estrangement until nearly 15 minutes in.

Some of the best parts of the film included the music, done by Son of Cloud, and the careful use of dialogue. Most importantly, the film does vital work in humanizing trans parents and showing the complicated relationships they might have with their families.

Find our full guide to RiverRun 2021 here.

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