“Cleaver’s Destiny” is a quiet little indie feature that showcases not only a war veteran’s story, but shines the light on other issues such as PTSD and the homeless as well.
It starts off with a young girl of 18, working as a waitress and going on auditions, that might be any young girl’s story in Los Angeles – only Amy Cleaver (a nice turn by Jenny Leona Di Gennaro) discovers after receiving a package of photos and possessions from her grandmother, that her missing Gulf War veteran father Bill (Karl Lentini) might actually be alive.
It’s not that Amy’s life is already complicated enough (she’s having an affair with her married teacher and she can’t pay her bills to her understanding roommate), but now she might have more of a purpose that she did before – if only she can find out where her father is.
With her reluctant “psychic” mom (Alexis Corey) giving her the whereabouts of a veteran friend of her dad’s, Pratt (Luke Sabis), Amy is told by him that “your dad went nuts, crazy, insane,” and that he might possibly be living in the streets.
Tracking him down and finding that he is indeed homeless (collecting Snapple bottles) sets off both problems and some happiness for Amy – she finally has a father, on the other hand he has lapses of memory and doesn’t even know who she is. Plus, he suffers delusions in a park and is apt to get into fights.
When the local VA hospital diagnoses Bill with some not-so-great-news, Amy tries to get him placed there – only for her dad to escape.
When Bill finally ends up coming to a realization about who Amy is, he tries to make up for his not being around for his daughter the best he can.
The hurt and sadness in the film is real, but Amy grows throughout the film to come to an understanding about who her father is and what his limitations are, along with her mother’s limitations too.
It was nice to see the respect for veterans in the film, along with an emphasis on how hard it can be for veterans returning back to civilian life, even years later.
In addition, Los Angeles as the setting makes for a real sense of place. With his first feature film, Lentini wrote, produced, directed, co-edited, starred and composed the music.
Lentini is also the standout here with a haunting, vulnerable look, along with a flamboyant performance by Corey and a tough solider’s attitude by Sabis.
“Cleaver’s Destiny” opened September 27 (Dagger Charge Films, Jenny Whine Entertainment) and is playing at the Laemmle Playhouse in Pasadena, California for one week.