As is so often the case, Darius and his son just don't get along all that well. Matters of family and dysfunction are as common nowadays as peanut butter and jam, but in "The Hail Mary," the problems are well beyond the normal parent and teenage issues. For a chunk of his son Terrell's life, Darius was not present - and even before that, he was always away serving his country. The catalyst for his outright absence was the death of his wife, and not quite knowing how to deal with that loss, Darius left young Terrell in the care of his aunt.
Eventually, despite still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, father and son are back together again permanently. Terrell is now on the cusp of being a man, and the relationship between the two is strained to say the least. Basically, Terrell doesn't understand why; when he needed him the most, his father abandoned him. Even with some eventual emotional support from his teacher, he just can't seem to let go of his anger and pain. Terrell understands the words; he understands the possible reason why his father chose the path he walked but still can't accept it emotionally. On the other hand, Darius still struggles with depression and is very much a child of the "men don't show emotion" generation. Do the pair manage to sort things out? You'll have to watch the film to find out for sure but also note that "The Hail Mary" is based on actual experiences - and is very, very dramatic at times.
Nnamdi Kanaga's script feels like it was polished to a gleaming shine through and through. The dialogue feels both real and gritty, and the presentation of the story itself felt first-class. The direction and delivery of the story by the actors are also worth mentioning because, at times, I felt like I could have been a fly on a wall watching real scenes unfold in real life. Kanaga's flick was an excellent representation of the story being told and held many real-life situations that I'm positive most parents and children will understand. Nobody knows exactly how to be a parent, and it becomes even more complicated when they have their own personal demons to fight along the way. The performances all around were excellent, and I feel that "The Hail Mary" will have no problem finding its audience. "The Hail Mary" is the complete package and a perfect example of how to produce a low-budget film.
Emotionally dramatic and on point would be how I would describe "The Hail Mary." A is a great indie flick that wears its heart on its sleeve. This is one of those occasions that pacing, subject matter, and casting have all come together to provide a rock-solid production. From script to background scoring, this flick went well beyond my expectations. Well done, four stars.