Wondering musician Leif travels to the cabin his mum, Honey, left him after she passed away. As mother and son were estranged due to her values and parenting, she leaves him tasks to complete in order to receive his inheritance; the cabin. While finding out things about Honey including the very large stash of weed hidden in her home and the lover who lived across the lake, Leif also goes through self-discovery, bringing him closer to his mother he didn’t really know.
Journeys through grief after the loss of a loved one can sometimes feel like a long painful and depressing drive to possible acceptance. But with Ride the Eagle, the loved ones are not close, yet wish they had been. With humour and realisations, this is nearly a one man show from Jake Johnson who also co-wrote the script. Moments where there is another person on screen are rare, most of his interactions are either by phone or with his co-star, Nora the dog who steals scenes every time she is on screen. With these scenes, there is a worry that Johnson won’t be able to hold the plot together, which isn’t a complicated one. Thankfully, Johnson’s charisma and ability to entertain, even while grieving, actually makes this a laid-back easy-going story where a character does change and develop, aside from all the changes that are thrown at him. Leif stays on track with the task at hand.
The catalyst for Leif’s complete change of circumstance, literally uprooting his life is the death of his estranged mother who brought him up in a spiritualist community. There are obvious hints that the community lived a hippy like existence which Leif didn’t seem to enjoy, yet his lifestyle is very free and easy going. He lives in a cabin with his dog at the back of a friend’s house, he plays the bongos in a band with younger people, all of which he loses as soon as he leaves for the cabin. This catalyst was a call for change Leif may not have even realised he needed but throughout the videos it seems his mother knew, it’s just a shame she had to die for him to realise this. The only time we see Honey is through the videos and voiceovers, delivered lovingly through Susan Sarandon. For the rest of the time, Honey is spoken of by her lover and through her belongings, what she left behind. Having minimal interactions with other characters brings the focus in on the mother and son relationship which is really what the story is about, and the film is better for it.
Ride the Eagle is about letting go of something you had all along and didn’t know it. Grief, in the film, is staying in the cabin your mum left you while you complete tasks to open yourself up and accept your situation. The film is nothing ground-breaking but it is an enjoyable story and interestingly played out, plus the cabin by the lake views are extremely pleasing.
Ride the Eagle is released on 4th October to own and rent on Digital Download.