The 10th annual Citizen Jane Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri closed out on Oct. 29, 2017 with the feature drama “In the Radiant City.” Directed by Rachel Lambert, who co-wrote the script with Nathan Gregorski, the film stars Michael Abbott, Jr., Marin Ireland, Madisen Beaty, and Celia Weston.
The family story involves flashbacks to a terrible fire started by a teenager that took the life of a young boy. The teen’s brother testifies, seeing to it that his brother goes to jail. The boys’ sister can’t forgive the testifying brother, who flees his hometown.
He returns 20 years later for a hearing that will determine if his incarcerated brother can be released early from his sentence.
Emotions run high in this narrative that is at once dramatic and understated. All of the characters are well-drawn, and the performances are believable and compelling. Abbott carries the film and is a force to be reckoned with. I hope to see much more from this actor in the future.
At a Q&A after the screening, Lambert said that in order to make sure the script was authentic and honest, she consulted with David Kaczynski, who testified against his brother, Ted Kaczynski, the unabomber.
The themes she and her co-writer wanted to explore included the binary of good and evil, trauma years after an incident occurs, and the ability or inability of people to break free of long-held beliefs and ideas.
While the film reaches no full resolution, its conclusion is satisfying because the main characters go through a complete emotional arc. If you like dramatic and psychologically rich films, this one’s for you.