Indelible (2007) – By Nic Brown

Life is complicated. It’s rare for things to be strictly black and white, right or wrong, and the choices we make have consequences. Donnie Arnett (Charlie Matthes) has learned that the hard way. After serving eight years in prison for his involvement in a drug deal gone horribly wrong, Donnie is finally free. Of course, in director Rick Amundson’s film INDELIBLE, freedom, like so many other things, is complicated.

Now that he’s done his time, Donnie wants to build a relationship with his twelve year old daughter Grace (Mackenzie Pelletier). His wife Gayle (Tess Gill) has other ideas. She’s taken up with Rickie (Paul Cram), the son of the supplier Donnie used to work for. The pair are both meth addicts and want nothing to do with Donnie. Gayle even threatens that she’d rather see Grace dead than with her father.

On top of the troubles with Gayle, Rickie’s dad JD (J.D. Garfield) wants Donnie back in the fold. Donnie was his best producing dealer and now he faces pressure to return to that life rather than stay clean.

Then there is Police Detective Milt Cochran, the father of Donnie’s best friend Jeff. Jeff was killed during the drug deal that put Donnie in jail, and Cochran still blames him for it.

Donnie is lost and unsure how he can do the right thing and become a father for Grace with so many obstacles before him. It is only when he meets Maggie (Michelle Tomlinson) that he finds someone who understands him and can help. Maggie, a tattoo artist, sees a kindred spirit in Donnie. While in prison he began getting tattoos of his own design. His ink is a map of his life and Maggie appreciates that. It is the tattoos that help her understand who Donnie is. She encourages him in his efforts to connect with his daughter despite the obvious challenges, and Donnie is able to see his daughter for the first time since he went to jail.

Grace at first doesn’t trust her father. Though only 12, she’s lead a hard life dealing with her mother’s addiction. Rickie’s abusive presence has only made that situation worse and Grace struggles with her own feelings about the father she never really knew.

When Rickie murders Gayle during a drug induced rage, Grace has to flee. She’s the only witness and Rickie wants her dead. She goes to the only person she has left: Donnie. Now Donnie must figure out how to protect his daughter, deal with Rickie, and build the relationship he and Grace both need.

INDELIBLE is a complex drama that draws heavily on the symbolism of Donnie’s tattoos to reflect the nature of life and relationships. Writer Steven Hakeman and director Rick Amundson do an amazing job creating a compelling and engaging story of one man’s journey through darkness, and his discovery of the true nature of the bonds that hold us to the ones we love.
INDELIBLE has a strong story. Coupled with outstanding performances by the entire cast, this makes a moving film that draws the view in quickly and holds them. Donnie is a sympathetic character and Matthes plays him with just the right combination of strength, compassion, and personal uncertainty. Mackenzie Pelletier delivers an amazing performance in her role as Grace, a young girl mature beyond her years in some ways, but who still longs for the certainty that every child seeks from their parents. Also worth noting are the performances by Tess Gill and Michelle Tomlinson. Their characters represent opposite ends of the spectrum for Donnie as Gayle’s hopelessness and desire to spread her own misery compete with the hope and understanding brought by Maggie.

The word indelible means something that cannot be erased. The tattoos that cover Donnie’s body tell his story and how the past cannot be changed. These same indelible markings also show how the relationships we form can become just as in-erasable if the will and the love are there. INDELIBLE is a moving drama that should not be missed.