AFF ’28: ‘Ragged Heart’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Every art form has the ability to connect with others. Whether it is through music, painting, or movies, these mediums can help us cope with numerous things. In Ragged Heart, we follow a washed-up musician on a journey to complete the last song his estranged daughter wrote before her tragic death. He hopes by getting the song recorded, he might redeem himself as a father and her spirit might find peace. The father-daughter connection may be strained and her father might not have been the paternal figure she needed, but he still made an impact on her. Director Evan McNary, shows the grieving process through one’s connectivity to music and it’s lovely.

McNary wastes no time in getting into the story, as we witness a devastating moment between father and daughter. Even though they were never that close, she still wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps as an artist. They shared a bond no one could really understand, even if they were miles apart. The opening scene is powerful and very effective. The daughter’s death lingers throughout the entire film, as her father attempts to make things right between them. The connectivity to music and the creativity in trying to lay her spirit to rest through song is special.

The important takeaway from Ragged Heart is that it dives into Athens, Georgia and highlights the local talent. While watching the film you can feel the warmth radiating off the screen because of how connected everyone was to each other. From local artists on the soundtrack, to deep, open conversations about grief, it is one of the most grounded films at the festival. It is important to have these conversations on screen and to show that everyone grieves differently. A father’s love for his daughter no matter how broken the relationship, will always be there. We understand the pain and wanting to bring the person back anyway we can. What McNary does is let those difficult conversations breathe; he makes sure the honesty shared in those conversations is felt.

Ragged Heart explores grief through music and examines the lengths a father would go to, to bring his daughter back one last time. The music that is sprinkled throughout this film adds so much depth to the story and these local artists should be recognized for their lyrics. Those who have a creative mind will always function in a different way and connect with others on a spiritual level. That connectivity is something special and only those who appreciate and respect art forms can understand how grief can be translated. More importantly, when a father and daughter share that kind of bond, it’s very special to see on screen because that relationship is rarely painted in a positive light.

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