by Hermione Flavia
I’m not always a huge fan of documentaries. I like the cinematic imagery of the bigger budget films, I’m shallow like that. But I do love the kind of insight you get into other places and lives, bigger truths, that you sometimes get in a decent documentary, as long as they’re not preaching at you. (I’m shallow like that too) What I love about Uncertain is that although it’s a documentary, it has beautiful imagery, it’s a very cinematic film. It’s very accessible and very entertaining.
Uncertain is a film about a tiny place, a small town on the border of Texas and Louisiana, with a population of only 94 people. It’s a place that often doesn’t appear on maps, and that people tend to only stumble across if they’re lost, or if they’re trying to hide or run from something. It explores the lives and stories of some of the inhabitants, delving a little into their pasts and their hopes and dreams about the future.
It’s an amazing name for a place where lives are lived by a lake that’s slowly being choked by a fast growing water weed, threatening the income of the inhabitants. It’s also a place where many people seem uncertain about their future direction.
The film centres on three people, in the main. A 74 year old who works on the lake as a guide, who used to be a criminal until one violent act changed his life forever, and who still mourns the death of his wife of 57 years, and their daughter. Another is a recovering drug addict and ex felon, who moved to the town with his girlfriend to find somewhere secluded to start over. His life revolves around the local hog population, and one particular boar called Mr Ed, who rules the wilderness. Finally, there’s a young 21 year old, already an alcoholic and who lives alone after his mentally ill mother had to be sectioned. As he struggles to stay dry, he dreams of getting out of the tiny town, where there are no real employment or romantic prospects, but that takes money for supplies, including his diabetes medication, and work experience that he has little chance of gaining in the tiny place.
Although these three men are troubled in some ways, what comes across is their humanity. They may have done things in their lives that are shocking, but they want to redeem themselves, they want to survive and create better lives for themselves. The film never looks down on them for their faults or their past mistakes, but finds the deeper truths in them that we can all relate to.
And it’s done with the backdrop of the landscape, the beautiful swampy lake, the birds, fish, animals. Although the town seems to be quite poor, and a lot of the inhabitants appear to live in trailers, what stays with you is the mist rising off the lake while a tiny fishing boat is dwarfed by huge mangrove trees, the images of deer and rabbits foraging in the wilderness caught on night vision camera
Uncertain is a beautiful film; sometimes funny, sometimes touching.
Uncertain is out March 10th