MOVIEWEB: Mending the Line Review: You May Just Get Hooked
June 7, 2023
Brian Cox and Sinqua Walls cast a worthy creative line in a fly-fishing tale that transcends familiar tropes.
It’s a bit of a surreal head-scratcher watching the first hour of director Joshua Caldwell’s Mending the Line, mostly because of Brian Cox. That’s not a bad thing at all, and undoubtedly, Cox’s presence works in this film’s favor. But the more you find yourself engaged in this endearing film, you realize several things: Sure, Cox is a sublime actor, but my oh my… it’s hard to shake off Logan Roy, the steely corporate giant Cox brought to life on HBO’s Succession, and a character that will go down as one of television’s finest. Cox is Cox here. Good all around, but that enormous shadow of Logan Roy covers him, especially because Succession’s finale aired just a few weeks ago.
That said, Mending the Line, a film about two unlikely military gents forced together to work things out — bring on the fly-fishing, folks! — somehow generates enough interest to keep you invested until its final scenes. Cox has a good acting partner here with Sinqua Walls. The actor has a commanding presence, and he turned heads in Friday Night Lights and The 15:17 to Paris. Walls will also be seen in The Blackening. Familiar tropes aside, Mending the Line is worthy of our attention. Here’s why....
There’s so much happening behind the scenes of Mending the Line that should be noted. Screenwriter Stephen Camelio, who wrote for Field & Stream and EPSN The Magazine, happens to be a fly fisherman, as does Caldwell. Their knowledge of fly-fishing shows here and the scenes in which Ike and Colter hit the stream are some of the finest moments. Think of as a kind of sweet moving meditation of sorts. These images ground the film, balancing Ike and Colter’s personal dilemmas. 'Of course!', we might find ourselves saying to ourselves…. Maybe nature is the best remedy.
Other things stand out in Mending in the Line. Sinqua Walls (Nanny) reportedly met and spoke with veterans whose real-life experiences mirrored Colter’s in the film—war, battle, injury, rehabilitation. You see that in Walls’ performance. Truth is, there’s something undoubtedly unique about Walls as an actor. I never felt as if I was watching him. It feels as if we’re experiencing Colter’s powerful journey.
Sobering facts come to mind while watching this film. Recent reports note that up to 22 veterans die by suicide every day. Some reports note that the suicide rate is more than 40. War, veterans, and PTSD all come to mind while watching Mending the Line. And the film’s title, of course, refers to both fly-fishing and psychological care. Camelio weaves all of this into the story with mindfulness and purpose, and the combination of Cox, Walls, and picturesque Montana, make Mending the Line a standout film experience. Take note, too, of several truly deep moments in the film, particularly when Lucy is reading to Colter or Ike. There’s a sweetness there, with metaphors about life and moving through transition that should strike a universal chord. The filmmakers may cast a familiar creative line in this tale, but you can’t help but get hooked.