Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Shot In The Dark, An HBO Documentary by Adrian Grenier

I recently got to screen and review the DVD, Teenage Paparazzo directed and produced by Adrian Grenier. It was with the excellence of that particular feature that I found myself excited about the opportunity to see his 2002 release, now on DVD, titled, Shot in the Dark. Shot in the Dark follows Grenier in his efforts to reunite with his estranged father. Released on the heels of Fathers Day this documentary serves as an excellent reminder that not all families, not all situations are as positive as some would like. It does much more than that though, it also shows us that there is a possibility of hope for those who still have fathers and are searching for knowledge. Not necessarily hope in having a great fatherly relationship but hope in at least knowing and discovering ones self which is lost with the loss of a father. I unfortunately know much of this story, not from the perspective that my father walked away, but from never knowing my father and the perspective that many people go through the same thing with the loss of a father, whether it is possible for that father to come back and have a relationship with their child or not.

As was the case in the documentary Teenage Paparazzo, Grenier has a tremendous talent for telling a story. In this case, even though the documentary is almost 10-years-old, he also knows how to inject himself into the story. One of the things one finds out about Grenier here, as well as in Teenage Paparazzo is he is far more than an actor. The viewer relates to Grenier in part because of this. Grenier was much younger when this film was made, he had not yet tasted success, yet he is a character one finds themselves caring about, and the subject matter is quite serious. One can also see the early development of talents in his acting on screen. Grenier shows not only his screen presence though; he shows talent from behind the camera and from the directors’ chair.

The documentary starts off in an appropriate place, the exploration of what it is like for one to not have a father. There is for many an identity crises that may not on the surface be evident to the friends, and/or even family that surrounds the one without a father. Grenier explores this within his own life by being open in his direction and allowing friends and extended family to speak their own mind about his search, even at times contributing to the filmmaking process. This starts to materialize over a phone call between Grenier and his father one evening on Fathers Day, a day that is a struggle for many who are fatherless.

As I watched this as a fatherless child, I could relate to much of the emotion, characters and story as Grenier explores the possibility of getting together with his own father. This is a tribute to his filmmaking and storytelling abilities. I found myself wondering though, can others follow along, and can they feel the emotion? That question haunted me for some time because this is a part of the search for the fatherless child; the need to be understood and appreciated for who they are. Fathers bring a heritage and history, as does mothers. Grenier is honest in his search, not only for the potential for good, but the potential for bad, whatever the results though regarding his own reunion, will come knowledge. The knowledge obtained isn’t just for Grenier, it is for all of those that care to know him better.

The irony of reviewing this film at the time I did is the close association to Fathers Day and the reality that I had just written an article relating to Fathers Day and the need of children in discovering and knowing as much as possible about their parents, including their fathers. Shot In The Dark supports that concept and it is beautiful to see it portrayed on screen. I can’t help but think back to my own article on the subject and the need to know not only as much as possible about our earthly fathers, but also about our Heavenly Father. It is in the exploration of knowing a loving God, who calls himself our Heavenly Father that I found my own place of peace and satisfaction. That is a place all of us can search for and discover. That isn’t to say our roots aren’t important, but in knowing our Heavenly Father, no matter where we are at, we will know and experience a perfect and loving father, despite the nature of God so many present. Many will choose to see God as a vengeful God, but the relationship I have through his son Jesus is what enables me to know the ultimate love that is possible. I have stated before, while I have never known an earthly father, I am blessed that I have gotten to know and have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. While Grenier may not come to the same conclusions I did in my own search, we certainly shared the same feelings and desires in the journey.

While I have seen little of Grenier from an acting perspective, I have found myself having a real appreciation for his directing talents. Just as in Teenage Paparazzo, it is hard to find anything negative with this documentary. As documentaries go, it is quite well done, enlightening and entertaining. Unlike some documentaries, most viewers will find this worth watching. There is something else I appreciate about the DVD, and that is the abundant number of special features.

This is a product well worth not only watching but owning. The viewing of this will likely help everyone who sees it whether having the best relationship with their father or not but it will also help those who know someone who has an estranged relationship with their father. In a world where people need real friends, friends who care and understand, A Shot In The Dark, although almost 10 years old is a refreshing taste of water to those who have lived similar lives. With each individuals need to understand and know their own roots, this will be a beneficial documentary that not only helps the person, but also, those who care.

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