2½ stars (out of four)
Tim Kirkman's "Loggerheads," which is set in three North Carolina locales at millennium's end, is a delicate if somewhat soap-operatic Southern mood piece that occasionally clicks. Intertwining three stories set from about 1998 to 2000, it's a sad tale that revolves around anti-gay prejudice, Southern cultural isolation and adoption laws that make it hard for adopted children and their birth parents to find each other. In "Loggerheads," loosely based on a real-life story, that becomes the stuff of pathos and tragedy.
Writer-director Kirkman weaves together, not always gracefully, three episodes focusing on three interconnected characters: a young, gay, HIV-infected man named Mark (Kip Pardue of "Remember the Titans"); his adoptive mother, Elizabeth (Tess Harper); and his birth mother, Grace (Bonnie Hunt), whom he's never met.
The stories and the people share a sense of isolation and melancholy. In the first, we see Mark, a drifter in his 20s, hanging out on the sandy shore of coastal Kure Beach, where he's gone because of his fondness for the loggerhead turtles that gather thereand where he meets a sympathetic motel owner, George (Michael Kelly), who puts him up and falls in love with him. In the second, set in Eden, N.C., a little later in time, we see the aftermath of the home environment that drove Mark away: Elizabeth's rigid marriage to a prosperous minister (Chris Sarandon) who's intolerant of homosexuality.
In the third story, set in Asheville, N.C., that excellent actress Hunt guides us steadily through what could be a minefield of sentimentalityas she searches for her son, is frustrated by cold-hearted adoption officials and finally discovers Mark's fate. But if episodes two and three have a definite soapy tinge, despite strong efforts by Harper and Hunt, the beach town romance is subtler and more affecting. Since the chronological shifts are a bit hard to follow (despite different casts and radio broadcasts that keep placing us in either the Clinton or Bush administration), Kirkman might have been wiser to try a less tricky time-structure. In any case, his cast saves him.
Opens Friday at Landmark's Century Centre Theatre. Running time: 1:33. No MPAA rating (adult: partial nudity, implied sexuality, language and mature discussions).Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times