Saturday, August 06, 2011

Sons of Perdition

If you're in need of a movie to make you grateful for your upbringing, Sons of Perdition is a good one. It features three teenage boys who are escapees from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community in Colorado City. The FLDS are a sect that still practice polygamy so there's not really room for too many adult males. It treats women as chattels, undisciplined men as expendable and children as a free source of labour. Growing up in Colorado City means no TV, no pop music, no toys, not much education, an ingrained belief that you'll be going to hell if you leave the community but also lots and lots of brothers and sisters and a deep sense of family. And a much closer relationship with your mother than your father, because you don't have to share her with quite so many others.

Escapees tend to move to St George, a nearby city, where there is a remarkable degree of support from other past escapees. It seems if you've grown up with 13 siblings, you don't find putting three teenage boys in your spare bedroom too perturbing. Life doesn't run especially smoothly for our three featured boys - Sam, Bruce and Joe. They move house often, struggle with trying to enrol in high school without birth certificates, dabble in drink and drugs and succeed in liberating some of their siblings only to have them returned to Colorado City.

It's a really interesting story. Lack of education is a downside for the boys, but on the upside they have amazing practical skills and work ethic and they're really unattached to things. For people who have been told what to do all their lives, they're amazingly unresentful.I'm hopeful they'll go far. I am a bit disappointed in retrospect that the fact that expulsion is really common for boys didn't feature more and very little time was spent on why these particular boys left, whether there was any compulsion and whether they grew up expecting to leave. It was obvious that the families made much more effort to try and retrieve escaped daughters than they did sons.

Sons of Perdition wasn't quite as gripping as Hot Coffee but does expose you to an area of the US you may not have seen before and slice of society you're unlikely to have had anything to do with. It's worth a look.

Anne's rating 3/5

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