The 2009 film, The Path of the Wind, begins with a man being released from prison and discovering that living in the real world can be just as confining.
Lee Ferguson (Joe Rowley) has spent the last few years locked up, convicted of killing a man. It was a spontaneous fight and Lee didn’t intend for the man to die but that doesn’t change the fact that Lee is responsible for taking another man’s life. He was a model prisoner and he intends to be a model citizen. Fortunately, he’s inherited a nice house and a good deal of money from his father. He’s also got a job waiting for him, as the well-meaning manager of the local grocery store has agreed to give Lee a chance.
From the minute he leaves the prison, Lee feels out-of-place in the world. He’s still struggling to control his temper and, because of his past, he’s hesitant about letting anyone get too close to him. He knows that if he tries to get close to anyone, he’ll eventually have to tell them why, despite his obvious intelligence and education, he’s currently working as a stocker in a grocery store. And, after he tells them that he’s been in prison, he’ll then have to explain what he did to find himself in that situation.
Still, on his first night of working at the grocery store, he meets a young woman named Katie (Liz DuChez). When he first sees her, Katie is being harassed by her violent ex-husband. Lee chases the man off. It turns out that Katie runs the local video store and she thanks Lee by offering him all of the free movies that he wants. Eventually, Lee works up the courage to go to the video store and gets a bunch of western DVDs. Later, he reveals that he not only doesn’t have a DVD player but he’s not totally sure what a DVD player is. I guess Lee was in prison for a while.
It takes a while but Lee and Katie finally start to date. Katie opens up about her past as a stripper and Lee finally tells her about the time that he spent in prison. (It turns out that Katie already knew.) They fall in love but there are still problems. For one thing, Katie is rather religious whereas Lee is a committed agnostic. Secondly, Katie refuses to have sex unless she’s married. Lee, meanwhile, really, really wants to get laid….
Of course, that’s not all that’s going on in The Path of the Wind. There’s about a different dozen storylines running through The Path of the Wind and the film doesn’t do a particularly good job of juggling all of them. Along with having to deal with Katie’s psycho ex-husband, Lee also has to deal with not one but two evil coworkers and his bitter sister. This is one of those films where a lot of plot points are raised but then mysterious abandoned. There is one effective scene, in which Wilford Brimley shows up as the father of the man that Lee killed. Brimley’s only in the film for a few minutes but he brings so much natural authority to his role that he basically takes over the entire movie for the limited amount of time that he’s on screen.
The film’s a bit of a mess but there’s a low-key sincerity to it that’s kind of likable. According to the imdb, it was made for a budget of $100,000 and, with the exception of Wilford Brimley, the cast is largely made up of amateurs. That said, both Joe Rowley and Liz DuChez have enough screen presence to be watchable and, even if the dialogue sometimes sounds a bit awkward, they have a likable chemistry and you can believe them as a couple. Add to that, the film does attempt to deal with a very real issue, the difficulty that ex-cons face trying to rejoin a society that often values punishment and revenge over forgiveness and rehabilitation. This is an amateur film but it may hold your interest.