Fame, at its utmost peak, can be a difficult beast to obtain for one’s own career path. However, it can be an even tougher force to retain over the course of a life’s work. Such is the story of Hudson Cash(Adam Lee Ferguson) in Evan Kidd’s length narrative-feature, “Son of Clowns“. This thoughtful and mild-budgeted drama centers on Cash, a TV star who’s suddenly blindsided by his own personal version of the unemployment line – Series Cancellation. Having no backup opportunities immediately at hand, nor in sight, Cash takes the chance to revisit some simpler times(as much as he’d rather not admit as to having a choice in the matter). Everyone has their own unique view on the idea of family. Some see it as staple of humanity itself, while other’s viewpoint can be compared to that of a leash upon those who are otherwise born free. The film takes its time in showing us how the latter can slowly evolve into the former through the highly suggested act of humility. Being fresh out of a job and seeing his family in long-term form for the first time since his powerful stint, this character study is quite melancholy from the get go. This is in no way a drawback, as the film tends to leverage its emotion from a sense of reality. This isn’t a funny comedy drenched in truths, but rather a truth drenched in what could have been far too real comedy.
The story is simple – TV star moves back home amidst bad news. Star then attempts to reconnect with his not only estranged, but downright strange family(making a living by performing side-show acts in a most freelance sort of basis, thus resulting in the film’s namesake). From there, we see the downward spiral of how someone of great notoriety can retain some of show biz’s vices, even when reverting back to simpler times in equally simpler places. Finding a new love interest and beginning to respect his rather topsy-turvy version of a lifestyle, Cash then succumbs to some of monotony’s worst symptoms. Regarding a portion of the film which showcases Cash’s newfound drinking problem, this could have easily come off as a major cliché. Not to say it doesn’t come off as a cliché at all, but it doesn’t not consume the flowing narrative into a crash of modern indie-film drinking game moments either. This said, the majority of the film is handled quite well by Kidd, as it easily could’ve been classified as a “been there done that” piece of cinema. I spent quite a while trying to figure out what it was that kept Son of Clowns from entering generic territory. Only just recently, I’d realized what it was all along.
This film makes a great use of grounded dialogue which sets it apart from many other contenders and colleagues within this production’s ballpark. Being a film festival juror for over 7 years, I’ve seen my fair share of examples that’d never fly with an adept audience. I can whole-heartedly say that the main character speaks in this film really grasps the attention of the viewer. I can personally tell when the protagonist is in some ways, a vessel of the director’s artistic viewpoints. One case of this being within the first act of the film. There is a scene in which Hudson Cash attends a local, small town acting course as a guest speaker. Once some routine acting exercises are completed, we are then presented with a long, but intense monologue given by Cash. It is a speech regarding acting and all it’s meant to be in the eyes of both the viewer and performer itself. It was during this monologue that I found myself sitting closer to the screen and notting my head along with his points. I didn’t blink & I didn’t look away. I was locked in. Kidd has officially crafted a scene that stole my attention from every other direction it could’ve drifted toward. I actually learned something, and this was only possible by the act of putting one’s very essence into the soul of your on-screen counterpart. Bravo Mr. Kidd!
All in all, Son of Clowns is not an ultimately unique, groundbreaking or perfect film by any regard. It is quite familiar and comparable to many other indie films on the circuit and VOD market as of recent. It’s tiny budget makes for an impressive execution, but only when considering said budgetary limitations were at hand. What this film has that makes it the small success that it is, is a fearless decision to show all as all would be. It is a realistic look at life that doesn’t submit to cheap humor in order to tell that story. It stands strong and holds its ground via strong performances and a no-nonsense attitude. If anything, one of the film’s interwoven themes of circus acts being no different in theory than on-screen dramatic portrayals makes this film a must rent for anyone wanting a quick dip into what can only be described as heartfelt, all-American nihilism.
– The Spork Guy
P.S. – Son of Clowns will be available for streaming via Amazon Prime on November 15th, 2016. Also, for a quick and all around useful bit of advice for anyone pursuing not only indie filmmaking, but cinematography to be more precise, please take a look at Evan Kidd’s extremely detailed video of such via Film Courage.