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'Flesh and Blood' has a raw, sometimes painful, honesty

'Flesh and Blood' has a raw, sometimes painful, honesty
Madeline Brewer and Mark Webber in the movie "Flesh and Blood." (Monument Releasing)

Actor-filmmaker Mark Webber mines personal experience for “Flesh and Blood,” a quasi-memoir that hearkens back to the raw, adventurous American cinema of the ’60s and ’70s. The movie bleeds honesty, though its individual components are more memorable than how they’re assembled.

Webber plays the film’s weakest character: an ex-con also named Mark, returning home to Philadelphia to get his life back together. As the cast’s only real pro, Webber’s also the most natural. But it’s distracting that his role’s partly fictional, while so many of the other actors are playing versions of themselves.

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Webber’s own mother, Cheri Honkala, plays Mark’s mom, Cheri, who — like the real Honkala — is a Philadelphia community activist, and former Green Party candidate for vice president. During Mark’s time in prison, Cheri has raised his half-brother Guillermo (Guillermo Santos), a frequently bullied misfit recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.

Guillermo occasionally interrogates his family members with his video camera, coaxing them to open up. Otherwise, there’s not much structure to “Flesh and Blood,” beyond the loose premise of Mark belatedly trying to reckon with an unconventional upbringing — which had him surrounded by drug addicts and the homeless from birth to adulthood.

But while the hook isn’t that sharp, it does elicit some bracingly alive, unscripted moments, where people speak frankly about pain and regret. “Flesh and Blood” is rough in both process and outcome, but has the urgency of a work of art that its creator needed to make.

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‘Flesh and Blood’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.

Playing: Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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