Written and Directed by: Randy Redroad
Starring: James Duval, Kevin Anderson, Jeri Arredondo, Jade Herrera, Gordon Tootoosis
Released by: Wellspring Media
My Advice: Rent it.
Most teenagers feel isolated and alienated, but Hunter Kirk (Duval) has to deal with big heaping tablespoons of this condition. With a white father, Hank (Anderson), and a Native American mother, Maggie (Arredondo), Hunter doesn’t feel truly connected to either culture. Hunter also suffers from hemophilia, a disease that is rare among Native Americans and prevents him from engaging in many physical activities with his father. An attempt at some father-son bonding while hunting ends badly when Hunter shoots a doe deer instead of a buck, a big no-no. Hence his nickname, “Doe Boy.” The massive bruise he gets that could be fatal doesn’t help either. So Hunter drifts around sullen and frustrated. But now, Hunter may be a victim of the early AIDS epidemic and this sideswipe of mortality has him coming to terms with his family and his heritage and the stigma of being The Doe Boy.
[ad#longpost]What I really liked about this movie is how it avoided using the clichÃ©s in the coming-of-age drama. The father doesn’t come off as a super-macho asshole, just someone who is frustrated because he can’t understand his own son. The usual father/son bonding activities, sports, hunting, and the like, are impossible for Hunter to do because of his hemophilia. His mother is overprotective, but as a nurse, she knows exactly could go wrong and her concern is based on her experience, not on irrational fears. And Hunter is trying to form an identity for himself that isn’t based on his blood or on his past mistakes.
All the actors did a fine job of making their characters seem like real people instead of two-dimensional cutouts. Except for an overdose in the ending, there is little New Age Native American wisdom to slog through. This is a simple story about people and how much they let disappointments affect their lives. A little more exposition might have helped. For example, it is never adequately explained why Hunter shooting the doe is a mistake. And giving Hunter an AIDS scare to push him into action is a little too melodramatic. Also, since this is more of a personal journey of manhood, don’t go to this disc for an examination of modern Native American culture.
For special features, there’s the usual filmography of the principal actors and a trailer that seems to have been made for an entirely different movie than I watched. I would like to have read or heard some comments from the writer/director on how he can up with the idea of a hemophiliac Native American and what inspired him to tell this story. A commentary would have been great, but such is life. The Doe Boy tells a good enough story and it’s worth a rental because of that.