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
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.