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The Blue Panther’s Quest: an Inspiring Cinematic Exploration of Love, Loss, and Forgiveness

Sam Now


Genre: Documentary
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 27m
Director(s): Reed Harkness
Where To Watch: will open in Los Angeles on April 6 at the Laemmle Glendale Cinema and on April 7, 2023, in New York at the Village East Cinemas, with select national cities to follow. In addition, the film will be broadcast on PBS Independent Lens on May 8, 2023

RAVING REVIEW: Two siblings embark on a 2,000-mile adventure to untangle a perplexing family enigma. Their story revolves around their mother's baffling disappearance, driving them to channel their love while exploring their passion for filmmaking, a  journey that ultimately lasted a quarter century.

SAM NOW is a documentary that will pull on your heartstrings, mixing diverse storytelling techniques, showcasing fictional films, home videos, candid family interviews, and the footage they’ve amassed over decades. The film charts the protagonist's odyssey from age 11 to 36 as he strives to escape this loop in which he’s found himself to better himself ultimately. As the brothers search for answers, they set out on a road trip and discover their mother's past is far more profound than either had imagined.

Centered on personal growth, SAM NOW views the evolution of our “star” from an optimistic teenager seeking his mother to an adult intent on healing past wounds. The film masterfully balances intense themes and emotional confrontations with a light-hearted spirit, mirroring life's challenges and victories. The brothers' bond and shared passion for cinema evolved from a fun pastime into an ability to express emotions and capture this remarkably personal journey on film. SAM NOW captures the siblings' pursuit of answers about life, family, secrets, and healing.

Despite the acceptance from other family members, this story would not end here. At age 13, their mother mysteriously vanished without a trace. Through interviews with friends and relatives, they endeavored to piece together the puzzle and understand their mother's motives. Watching this story unfold was unlike any documentary I had seen before. I couldn’t imagine trying to fight upstream like this.

The mother's actions remain shrouded in mystery, leaving more questions than answers, outside of her offering up a yearning for self-discovery and liberation from others' control as an answer. I can’t imagine being in this situation, so I can’t judge anyone’s actions or feelings. This is ultimately a small story of two brothers but expanded on in such a way that makes the story accessible to so many. Sometimes the importance of a documentary is what it means to the filmmakers and, in turn, them sharing their passions with the viewers.

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[photo courtesy of Craig Strong/A HA/HA, ITVS, 2R PRODUCTIONS]

Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.