Humane documentary examining the effects of drug addiction and an obsession with reality TV fame on two men whose lives cross paths in the strangest of fashions
Don't be fooled by its outlandish premise; Finders Keepers is a tale of Southern families in decline, reminiscent of Gone with the Wind and the literary works of William Faulkner. Its two central characters are bred to occupy polarised places in an unequal but relatively harmonious social order, though both lose their dignity and sense of belonging to distinctly modern vices: reality TV and crystal meth, respectively. The documentary explores the undoing of John Wood and Shannon Whisnant, the strange set of circumstances that sees their lives interconnect, and the qualities we've come to value as a society.
When junk trading entrepreneur Whisnant finds Wood's mummified leg inside a grill he'd bought at auction, his initial surprise is overcome by an unfathomable desire to milk it for TV exposure. His acquisition becomes the talk of international news providers as he exhibits it to paying customers and finds himself embroiled in an ownership dispute with Wood. While the deluded Whisnant fixates on the appendage as a ticket to celebrity status, it similarly embodies the life of privilege and security from which his injured, substance-abusing nemesis has fallen.
Film makers Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel stop short of mocking either figure, despite their many opportunities to do so. Instead, they present the men as products of their environment and upbringing. Wood is self-aware but desperate throughout his humiliating ordeal, all too conscious of the shame he brings upon his family. Whisnant's pathetic lack of integrity, meanwhile, ensures pathos undercuts his villainy, even as we root for his downfall.
Finders Keepers screens at Glasgow Film Festival: 27 Feb, CCA, 6.30pm