The most certain thing about this doc is that you will have never heard and will never visit the town where it takes place. Uncertain, Texas has a population of just 94, and it is located literally in the middle of nowhere. And conveniently so: it’s a hot spot for criminals evading justice or those just retiring from the world one way of another.
The movie is a triptych of Bs very familiar to Americans: bullet, bible and beer. The three people depicted in this doc come from very dysfunctional backgrounds, and their existence is mostly founded upon guns, religious faith and alcohol. Zach Warren is only 21 years old, which he describes as the typical “retirement age” in Uncertain. After that, you have little more to do than visit the local bar and drink, he claims. He has severe diabetes, apparently caused by the alcohol, and an insulin pump is permanently attached to his body. Despite being informed by his doctor that he’ll likely be on dialysis by 30 and dead by 35 if he doesn’t change his habits, he continues to drink undaunted.
The second peculiar character is 74-year-old Black American Henry Lewis, who works as a tour guide and a fisherman. The man is a tourist attraction himself, complete with a hardly intelligible Southern drawl (his dialogue is supported by subtitles) and a wild life story filled with racial tension, prison stints and even a murder. The third person in the film Wayne Smith is also no stranger to violence: he is a recovering addict obsessed with guns and hunting, and who killed a young man in a drunken driving incident decades earlier. He cherishes living in Texas because the gun laws are far more relaxed than in neighbouring Louisiana.
Think of the imagery in Ulrich Seidl bleak and raw docs In the Basement (2014) and Safari (2016), add a pitch of hope and positivity and you are partway there. Despite the fact that the three characters find redemption in the three Bs (bullet, bible and beer), barely an enviable predicament, the two directors Anna Sandilands/ Ewan McNicol evoke sympathy, beauty and light from these stories (unlike the aforementioned Austrian director, who does not empathise with his characters at all). You will be unexpectedly engrossed by the strange humanity of these three man. The ugly and dirty surroundings, including the boggy wetlands which Henry constantly navigate provide the film with an eerie and yet strangely charming finishing touch. The outcome is quite impressive, particularly for two first-time helmers.
Uncertain is out in cinemas in the UK on March 10th and on VoD a week later. DMovies recommends that you get the full experience on the silver screen, where the exotic vegetation acquire a more profound dimension. But you could also watch it from home, where you are less likely to drown in the troubled waters of of the Deep South. Just click here for more information.
Meanwhile, immerse yourself in the film trailer:
We recommend that you also watch the American doc Lovetrue (Alma Har’el, 2017) a very touching and visually astounding portrait of three dysfunctional American who find redemption through love (instead of bible, bullet and beer) – just click here for our exclusive review.