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Taliesin Jones (PG)
Snake River Productions
Official Site
Director: Martin Duffy
Producers: Ben Goddard, Louise Clark Goddard
Written by: Maureen Tilyou
Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Ian Bannen, Matthew Rhys, Geraldine James, John Paul McLeod

Rating: out of 5

The moral of the story is, “Just be and believe.” Easier said than done, but still a nice notion and worthy goal.

Taliesin Jones (pronounced Tawl-ee-ess-in) is the story of a 12-year-old boy dealing with a couple bothersome little issues that plague all humans from time to time—the existence of God and the meaning of life.

The film opens on an idyllic, blurred scene of a family laughing and bonding over an afternoon picnic in the Welsh countryside. (It is set entirely on location in South Wales.) We skip forward an unnamed amount of time (presumably just a few months), to a point after the happy family unit has disintegrated.

The beloved mother figure (James), who in the picnic scene talked about wanting to travel the world, has abandoned her family and moved in with a fruity hairdresser in a nearby town. Her young son, Taliesin (McLeod) is left in the care of his rough-edged, frustrated, yet good-hearted father (Pryce) and bitter older brother (Rhys).

Luckily, his elderly piano teacher, Billy Evans (Bannen), becomes his personal guru in all matters of faith and hope. Billy is also a “healer,” who fixes the aching back of a woman right before Taliesin’s eyes, to his amazement (and my disbelief—yeah, I guess I’m a cynic). Taliesin develops a nasty case of warts, which are an excuse for ridicule by his schoolmates. His hands are healed after Taliesin and Billy pray for them as well.

The wart removal inspires Taliesin to become a healer himself, so he and his friends form a gang called The Believers and begin laying their hands on and praying for their sick or injured classmates. Then, tragedy strikes when Tal finds his hero, Billy, has passed away in his home. So this lad who had heretofore believed in God wholeheartedly and without question, renounces his belief. The remainder of the film chronicles how he finds his way back, despite the cynicism of his family members and the often-tragic twists and turns of life.

The movie felt overly sappy and heavy-handed at first, like it was trying a bit too hard to be inspirational. It seemed like a cross between Harry Potter (without the witchcraft) and Billy Elliott (without the ballet). Eventually, though, it became quite an endearing and unique tale of childhood innocence, unconditional love, and belief. The acting was strong on all counts. The writing, though certainly a bit oversimplified, was still clean, concise. Overall a charming, uplifting movie well worth watching.

Taliesin Jones has been widely acclaimed at film festivals worldwide since 2000 and was named Best Feature at the 2000 Austin Film Festival. It will open in select cities in March.

—Michelle Fajkus


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