Parents' Guide to

What Remains

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Slow but touching drama about forgiveness vs. revenge.

Movie NR 2022 101 minutes
What Remains Movie: Poster

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This drama is often painfully slow, and it sometimes suffers from budgetary restraints, but its message of forgiveness comes through clearly and without heavy-handedness. Even though it has a murder mystery woven into it, What Remains seems to have been downshifted into a lower gear, and little suspense is generated. More straightforward dramatic scenes -- such as a long montage of characters cleaning scrap wood from an abandoned property -- may leave viewers glazed over. But at the heart of the movie are some genuine human conundrums that are well worth pondering. The pastor's sermon about forgiveness is convincing, but behind the scenes, he's less than fully convinced. He's hurting, and, unfortunately, a natural human response is vengeance -- i.e., lashing out at the one who caused the hurt.

Samuel is all about vengeance, and writer-director Nathan Scoggins does a good job of establishing with a few economical scenes that the rest of this small Texas town is on his side; nobody wants Parker around. All of this makes the pastor's decision even harder -- harder still as Parker becomes less a force of evil and more a troubled human being. A curious scene in which Scoggins splits the screen into two halves depicts two scenarios: one in which the pastor has a hard discussion with Samuel, and one in which they ignore one another. The movie never returns to the former scenario and only follows the latter one, which is a strange and bold choice. In that, What Remains subtly and compellingly suggests that, while humans have fierce feelings and reactions, that understanding begins with conversation -- and forgiveness comes from understanding.

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