Stop me if this sounds familiar: a man without a law school degree finds himself involved in a trial that could land himself and the lawyer he is working for in jail. While Michelle Ouellet’s Prodigals may sound like a reboot of the television series Suits, the film reveals itself to be a deeply nuanced examination of fear, choices and regret.
Leaving Sault Ste. Marie five years ago for a fresh start in Toronto, Wesley (David Alpay) is pulled back into his old life when he returns home to assist in the murder trial of his friend Nina’s (Kaniehtiio Horn) volatile brother Benny (David Kaye). Although the video evidence is seemingly a slam dunk for the prosecution, Wesley agrees to take a research assistant role for the lawyer defending Benny while neglecting to divulge that he never completed his law degree.
Wesley finds himself walking a fine line both in and out of the court when his feelings for his ex-girlfriend Jen (Sara Canning) causes several secrets to surface within his group of friends.
Adapting the stage play by Sean Minogue, the film is not short on plot threads to follow. Ouellet skillfully navigates the various arcs by given each strand time to breath and grow. By spending time establishing the dynamics amongst the friends, Prodigals systematically dispel Wesley’s righteous notions of himself.
Wesley may believe he is bigger than Sault Ste. Marie, but his poor’s decisions only further emphasize that his seemingly successful life is nothing more than a flimsy façade.
The result is a riveting portrait of a man who has spent so much time running away from his past that he has lost sight of who he really is.