After a terrifying journey to hell and back Jean Marc Calvet must now faces his biggest demon. After rising from the ashes of a life shrouded in paranoia this now famous artist must embark on a harrowing voyage back through his troubled past in order to find the son he abandoned almost eighteen years ago in this brave and thoroughly touching documentary.
A onetime drug addict and rent boy, the young Calvet slowly built himself a life and a family out of nothing, before rejecting it all the moment the prospect of a life of unimaginable prosperity came calling. A childhood riddled with abuse amongst a backdrop of poverty had provoked anger within the young man, driving him to a lifestyle of violence which led to careers in the Army and eventually as a bodyguard for a rich American business man who made him the job offer he couldn’t refuse.
Leaving his homeland and moving to America he soon realised that this new lifestyle was a million miles away from the stereotypical American dream. Deeply involved within a world of unsolicited and highly illegal business deals he soon became disenfranchised with the broken promises that appeared to have shackled him into this life of drug trafficking and underground crime. He ultimately made a phenomenally brave decision which whilst freeing him from one oppressive lifestyle ultimately just led to another filled with destructive excess’ that would eventually incarcerate him within a world of mental instability and drug fuelled paranoia.
Using art to free himself of his internal demons, Jean Marc Calvet is now very much a reformed man. His expressive paintings with their uniquely personal style have attracted interest from art critics worldwide, affording him a comfortable lifestyle whilst also giving him an outlet for the anger which once consumed him. The only thing missing is to make amends with the son he left all those years ago.
What comes next is a thoroughly moving journey through the south of France following Calvet as he strives to meet Kevin, the son he had abandoned. His aim is not an attempt to reconcile their relationship, (he has long accepted that he no longer deserves the privilege of being the boy’s father), but to give Kevin the opportunity to ask the numerous emotionally suffocating questions he must have carried with him like an albatross across neck his entire life.
Dominic Allan’s film is almost as painterly presented as Calvet’s masterpieces. These rigorously framed flights into Calvet’s troubled past are as visually alluring as the most accomplished of fictional movies, creating an absorbingly intense portrait of a man who has lived through more in his turbulent life than seems humanly possible.
Never coming across as even moderately voyeuristic this incredibly personal expose of a truly fascinating man resonates with a message about the importance of family that a thousand tragedies could never come close to replicating. This life affirming adventure into the abyss and back of one truly fascinating character has a social message that ought to be seen by everyone. Calvet’s view that love and the power of family is a dream which he desperately wants to believe is true, is a belief we should all be able to relate to.