Imagination can be a helluva tool. We take it to places far beyond the conventional and sometimes use it as a bridge to make us closer to someone. Remember when you were younger, and your mom or dad fought imaginary bad guys with you or went to space? Sure, they weren’t there, but it’s an act of love and affection to try. As we age and the distance between our parents and us grows, we lose some of those bonds to practicality. Or, sometimes, they may have never been there at all. In Acidman, Maggie (Dianna Agron) searches for her father, Lloyd (Thomas Haden Church), whom she hasn’t seen in years. In a three-week search, she tracks Lloyd to a run-downed trailer home in the middle of the woods. Lloyd’s only companion is his dog, Migo. His appearance is ragged, and he spends his days looking for extraterrestrials.
At first, Maggie and Lloyd’s interactions are scant — brief conversations about childhood memories that Lloyd may misremember, and they play catch up with significant instances in Maggie’s life. The critical aspect is finding out why Lloyd, a former engineer, suddenly left and lives the life of a hermit. Director/co-writer Alex Lehmann’s Acid Man focuses on two characters to investigate themes of emotional trauma, acceptance, and fixing the distance a mother-distant father relationship has over time. Are there aliens, as Lloyd proclaims? Probably not — however, the possibility has fully taken Lloyd’s character. Unfortunately, it gives him a purpose that distracts him from the glaring hole of apathy in his personal life.
The vast forestry landscape merges the impressive writing of Lehmann and co-writer Chris Dowling and the acting chops of Agron and Haden Church in an emotional, thrilling container. With Acidman, Lehmann based it on his own “Acid Man” that lived in his town. For all the years that Lloyd has been untouched by the outside world, retreating from his family, he gets even more taken by these conspiracy theories. That concept of leaving is something that resonates inside Maggie. While she comes to her father to find the reason for his disappearance, Maggie is also running away from a husband at home, and Lloyd discovers this on a hunch.
Which poses the question, why are humans so quick to flee from the great support systems we have in place? Maggie and Lloyd have to find that out together in different ways. At points, Haden Church allows little slithers of emotion to seep through his stoic, sometimes chaotic exterior. Agon emotionally comes apart, but her character understands she has to meet her dad in the middle. In the quick flashbacks, a younger Maggie indulges Lloyd in an extravagant story that he remembers today. If we can enjoy the wonder from a child, why not from an adult? Not every parent loves their child alike. At points, we may wonder if the worst parts of our personalities passed down to us can be corrected. Maybe we’re all doomed to repeat the same cycles, but Acidman strives to break the curses of mistakes and unsaid words. Lehmann’s beautiful setting of an endless skyline allows for endless possibilities for forgiveness to be examined.
Photo Credit: Tribeca Festival