Following Sean

"Good"

Following Sean Review


In what has become rather epidemic among U.S. documentary filmmakers, Ralph Arlyck's Following Sean is ultimately more about Ralph Arlyck than its ostensible title subject.

Arlyck made a 15-minute short documentary called Sean in 1969, when he was an admittedly burned-out hippie living in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The subject, Sean Farrell, was four years old and already opinionated, offering platitudes on (most notably) drug use and the fuzz. Now that 30-plus years have passed, Arlyck decides to try to catch up with Sean -- along with everyone else he hung around with during the counterculture era -- to see how things have panned out for them. It shouldn't be all that surprising: The adult hippies of the era stayed hippies, while Sean grew up and realized that jobless and stoned wasn't going to be all that satisfying a life.

For a while, Arlyck's film shows promise, as he subtly captures the vague disillusionment of the hippie life which few of its adherants are able to put into words. Burned out and underemployed, they're caricatures still clinging to failing communes and deep-woods property (though it's now worth a fortune). Then Sean (finally) comes into focus: He's neither a burnout nor a stockbroker, as alternately foretold in 1969. He's a union electrician, has an immigrant girlfriend, and just wants to live his life. He seems like a really cool guy, actually (and he apparently lives around the corner from me), and I am happy he managed to shrug off the chains of a communist/hippie family to make a life for himself, start a family. Alas, that doesn't make for great footage, which sends Arlyck hunting for footage of random events like tearful airport farewells or driving cars in the mud in northern California. And this is relevant how?

While I feel like I got to know Sean somewhat in this 87-minute affair, the person we really get to understand is Ralph Arlyck. Arlyck's personal fears, relationships, family (his kids are no longer amused by the camera constantly in their faces), career path, politics... boy, there's not a facet of Arlyck that isn't touched upon in this documentary. That might not be so bad, but Arlyck lived in the same hippie apartment complex as Sean, and his life has had a pretty obvious path since 1969 as well. No surprises here, I'm afraid.

The DVD includes additional footage, an interview with Arlyck, and the full Sean short film.



Following Sean

Facts and Figures

Run time: 87 mins

In Theaters: Friday 13th January 2006

Distributed by: Docurama

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ralph Arlyck

Producer: Ralph Arlyck, Malcolm Pullinger

Starring: Ralph Arlyck as Narrator, Sean Farrell as himself

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