May 25, 2020  (Web Review)

Nathan's Kingdom

Gravitas Venturas, 98 min., not rated, DVD: $16.99, Blu-ray: $19.99, Apr. 21

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Writer-director Olicier J. Munoz’ 2019 feature recalls Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King in its portrayal of mental illness, hallucinations impinging on the material world, and sometimes-it’s-the-cracked-ones-who-let-the-light-shine-in theme. As youngsters, siblings Laura (Madison Ford) and Nathan (Jacob Lince) pledged loyalty to each other, even though Nathan’s autism and barely governable behavior destroyed the household. Now in his 20s, Nathan hoards DIY art, sculpture and journals from his inner fantasy world, about a diabolical “Evil Condor” opposing a virtuous “Condor Angel” as Nathan quests obsessively for his hidden “kingdom.” When her brother’s antics sabotage teen Laura’s personal life and threaten to bring the wrath of social services, the co-dependent duo drive into the desert (a majestic Red Rocks shooting location) with a suitcase full of costumes for role-playing misadventures and catharsis. Nathan’s confabulations are visualized nicely on a small budget using 2D-CGI animation of the character’s sketchbooks. Ultimately it’s question of whether the viewer can believe the conceptual breakthrough and fantasy-vs.-reality closure. It adds weight that actor Lince himself is autistic; foreknowledge that his character traits come from a deeper well than “`method’ acting schtick uplifts the fragile material. A strong optional purchase. (C. Cassady)