The film has just two characters that you see on screen. Jeff Wincott plays Dr. Michael Mercer a retired botanist living in isolation in the woods. He spends most of his time collecting various kinds of mushrooms for his research to curing cancers. He is also using the fungi he collects to help treat his arthritis. During one of his treks into the woods looking for mushrooms he meets Elvis (played by Wolfgang Wincott), a young boy on his own. He is immediately concerned about his wellbeing and decides to take him in. Elvis has been living for 10 years with a father who is mentally ill and had run away to avoid being taken in by child services.
The two become unlikely friends quickly. Elvis after all that he experienced as a young boy seems to have a very interesting perspective on the world and shares it with Dr. Mercer. Their bond grows more leaving Dr. Mercer torn between helping Elvis get back to his rightful home or providing him a safe home himself.
We watch as Dr. Mercer who is otherwise is a loner become emotional concerned about the well-being of another person other than himself. It happens too fast that you are left wondering how then is that Dr. Mercer is all alone by himself with no family. It is endearing to watch how the affection grows as he takes on a father figure role almost immediately.
Clearly, this a family project as it is written and directed by Charlotte Wincott who is a wife and mother to the two cast in this film. The characters appear very comfortable in their roles almost as though it is not challenging them in anyway.
Young Wolfgang Wincott shows tremendous promise as an actor in this film. Hopefully he takes this path he is on serious and grows and improves. I would certainly love to see more from him considering how he handled the character Elvis in this film. Elvis appears to be bold and confident. And his outlook on life clearly isn’t that of a 10-year-old living with a mentally ill father.
The film explores the importance of having compassion for those struggling with mental illness. It doesn’t focus too much on that however and only subtly tackles the subject anytime Elvis’ father is mentioned. It would have helped if that idea had been delved more into. Perhaps, it would have been nice to see a few flashback scenes of Elvis with his father and what effect that situation and how he handles it as a young lad.
Beyond that, it is not clear exactly what else this film is trying to communicate. Certainly, it wouldn’t be that easy for a loner like Dr. Mercer to want to take in a random boy in the woods. Also there seemed to be no sense of urgency on the paths of the persons he calls trying to track down Elvis’ father. You would expect that child services would have been contacted almost immediately to come for young lost boy.
You get the sense that this film might have been made during the covid lock down period. It has this unique silence and emptiness to it. Even when the characters make a trip to the store to get some clothing for Elvis, we never get to see anyone else. Even the characters that Dr. Mercer speaks to over the phone on several occasions and not seen.
The story just sticks and stays on the two main characters right through to the end. It keeps a mellow pace with not so much as a 2nd act that switches up the pace a bit.
I would rate this 5/10 for the labor of love that it is.
‘The Issue with Elvis’ doesn’t promise much and delivers just as much as it means to. It is a slow burner that seeks to tell an endearing story. But does the story have the punch to take you on an emotional rollercoaster? The reaction my certainly be different for each viewer.
This film is streaming across various digital platforms starting on March 15th 2022. Distributed by Random Media and 1091 Pictures.