Movie Reviews · Reviews

Film Review: American Folk Shows The Kindness of Strangers


The hardest thing for an artist is to be uninspired. There whole definition of creativity derives from inspiration, and an idea that how you see the world’s light, through its darkness, can make art. American Folk is about finding music inspiration through one of the darkest moments in American history: 9/11.

Initially, the film captures the chaos, fear, and surge of humanity that coursed through this tragedy, and made people seek love from strangers because their family or friends were not at hand. Joe Purdy as Elliott and Amber Rubarth as Joni are a prime example of how massive tragedies unite humanity through its basic level: compassion. The first time Purdy and Rubarth sing, you swear a hummingbird, somewhere, has learned to fly. The folk music of this film, alone, is worth watching, and explains why Elliot and Joni connect so deeply and quickly; good music cannot be denied.

Purdy as Elliot may seem like a surly man, but, in truth, he seeks to be seen for the sweetness he can offer, of which Rubath’s Joni can find honey even in the sourest soul. Their music is so beautiful and tender that, by the film’s end, you revel in how this sonic unity was made on a day that felt without song. As the strangers criss cross America’s gorgeous, natural landscapes, you forget the timing of this film and how “lost” the characters’ felt before they found each other. Yet, isn’t that the magic of music? It puts into sound and words feelings that we think are not conveyed, and make us feel found.

The chemistry between Purdy and Rubarth is perfect. Their connection makes the movie sincerely believable. A young woman, stranded at an airport, would hop on a cross country adventure with a complete stranger. That sounds safe and common (lol!). Yet, there are moments in life when your intuition sparks, and some kind of internal, intangible radar begins to alert you to an opportunity. You do not know the “exact” information of this chance, but you do know it involves growing up. For Purdy’s Elliott ,in particular, this truth radiates as he goes from a man defined as “always rubbing people the wrong way” to one that others’ feel they can approach. In some ways, his bond with Joni proves that positivity is the best side-effect of love, and the more you fall into it, the more you gain it.

I can sincerely say that, at least, midway into the film I was “shipping” Elloni; my couple name for Elliott and Joni. It was not simply that they radiated “love”, but they showed understanding to each other, which was something they both needed. The film ends, in a way, as it should; proving that, sometimes, people solely enter your lives to give you the tools you were missing to build yourself. The simplicity of the film and this message makes it feel like a silent fire burning with virtue and deserving of your witness. It is not a film that is “action-packed” per say, but there is always something invigorating about watching two people bond. American Folk Comes Out In Theaters And On Demand On January 26. PLUS THEY ARE GOING ON TOUR, which you can find out dates by Clicking Here. 

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