Filmmaker Kimberly Reed dives headfirst into an unflinching portrait of her family that is absolutely engrossing and marks her coming-out, in more ways than one. Returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, Reed hopes for reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother. But along the way Prodigal Sons uncovers stunning revelations, including a blood relationship with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, intense sibling rivalries and unforeseeable twists of plot and gender. Reed’s rare access delicately reveals not only the family’s most private moments, but also an epic scope as the film travels from Montana to Croatia, from jail cell to football field, from deaths to births. Kim Reed’s compassionate vérité style of filmmaking captures the lives of her family in such an organic way that their exceptional and challenging stories puncture the surface of our expectations. Questions of sexual orientation, identity, severe trauma and family love are effortlessly explored as the subjects freely open up their lives to the camera. Raw, emotional and provocative, Prodigal Sons offers a moving, illuminating examination of one family’s struggle to come to terms with its past and present. It’s sure to open both your mind and your heart. —AFI Film Festival
The film is sometimes a little messy in trying to make sense of all the surprises in Reed's life, but she creates a thoughtful exploration of the difficulties of coming to terms with the past—for both herself as a transwoman and for her brother dealing from mental illness. In finding such a parallel, the film becomes an articulate, powerful portrait of family. And that damn title brings me to tears.
Astounding documentary that starts as a portrait of two brothers who have been estranged for over a decade. In that time the one brother has had a serious injury leaving him with brain damage and the other has transitioned into a woman. But that is just the starting part for this amazing film about identity, rage, self doubt, acceptance among other things. Throw in blood ties with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.