A Love that Never Dies
Jimmy Edmonds and Jane Harris lost their son unexpectedly in a motorbike accident in 2011. Their own personal processing of the event is revealed in a highly confessional and raw way in the documentary A Love that Never Dies. As they travel across the USA meeting parents who lost children in equally sudden circumstances, the couple attempt to illuminate grief and responses to trauma. No story is identical, no reaction clichéd.
The movie is a descriptive and intimate collage of the deceased and their families. Through the accounts of relations and acquaintances, these chapters become personal tributes, therapeutic and exposing. Since Edmonds and Harris conduct the interviews themselves, the camera is deeply sympathetic as it sits between sets of aggrieved parents. Despite the uniqueness of the children, the filmmakers find patterns of both positive and destructive consequences in their deaths. Strained relationships, shrines, rituals and the shockwaves sent into communities all figure strongly.
But the film never seems to weave these elements together, and the feature remains unfocused. The journey through the American heartland, though a time-honoured metaphor, does not construct a clear narrative, and long landscape shots seem somehow incidental. Within it, however, key themes inevitably appear about life in the US: race tensions in the inner city, gun violence, the reticence of the South. But these ideas stray from the grief that is billed as the main optic of this documentary.
The stories and testimonials are harrowing. Losing a child so early in life is a wound that billows unremittingly. This picture has clearly found a relatively unexplored element in these instantaneous passings, but a mere exposition is never enough. A documentary-maker’s role is to distill and refine story and emotion and bring them to a head. A Love that Never Dies lacks this clarity, even as it hits home the perpetual upheavals these parents suffer.
A Love that Never Dies is released in select cinemas on 18th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for A Love that Never Dies here: