Rob Reviews "Quest"
When you are a first time documentary feature director, the challenges of getting your film made and out there tends to be a challenge. I cannot imagine how much more of a struggle it can be to complete your project when your pitch involves the words “I’m going to film this over a decade”. Nonetheless, his vision is now reality as “Quest” made its appearance at the 11th Dallas International Film Festival after a successful showing at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
“Quest” chronicles the first ten years of Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his new bride, Christine, as well as their blended family, which also coincides with President Obama’s first election. Living in the rough area of North Philadelphia, he is a music producer and local radio personality while she works as a night manager at a women’s shelter. They are raising both her young adult son as well as their daughter, PJ, in a time where struggling to make ends meet may be the biggest understatement possible. From repairing a leaky roof with plywood himself to trying to make sure PJ has clothes and school supplies, their lives are on full display through their triumphs and struggles.
There is nothing about this film that is not simply real, raw, and emotionally powerful. What starts out as a portrait of a family trying to make their dreams come true turns into a story of perseverance through struggle, identity through understanding, and simply the ties that bind no matter what. There is an unexpected left turn about halfway through that had me literally and physically catching my breath (and trust me: if you don’t know, don’t research it; if you do know, don’t give it away) that affects and carries itself out for the rest of the film. By the time the credits rolled on “Quest,” the only way I can describe the way that I felt was the way that I SHOULD HAVE felt at the end of “Boyhood”. Sure, one of them is a documentary and the other is a pseudo-narrative (remember that the latter really had no script, so there is a lot of life experience there), but that feeling of having been on a journey (didn’t want to go for an unintentional pun) with this family for ten years and feeling like they were a part of my being still resonates as I write this review almost a week after the fact. I find myself wondering how they are doing and preparing to fire them off an e-mail before realizing that we don’t really have that kind of relationship. That is how powerful Jonathan Olshefski’s delivery of his material is, which is also a testament to his subjects’ willingness to let him into even their most painful moments to give the full picture of the things they go through. This is a tale of the human condition, and no matter what your road has been or will be, there is a part of this film that will hit you where you live. If there is ANY possibility that you have a chance to see “Quest,” do not let it pass you by.