Tillman (2011) – By Cary Conley

Tillman tells the story of Richard Tillman, a man who looks to have everything one could want. He’s a self-made man and owns a used-car lot, has a nice house, a wife, and three kids. He’s living The American Dream. Or is he? You see, his oldest son is in rehab, his teenage daughter wants nothing to do with him or any of the family, his wife is an alcoholic, and sales are nonexistent at his car lot. On top of all that, his gorgeous secretary is infatuated with him and Tillman is finding it hard to focus on work. He spends his days playing video games on the computer and then goes home to take care of the kids, cook dinner, do the dishes, and finally crash into bed hours after his drunken wife has already crashed. The only bright spot is his young son, Conner, who is blissfully unaware of all Tillman’s travails and regales the otherwise silent family with tales of what he’s learned in school during dinner.

Then one night Tillman can’t sleep. He’s worried about his business and contemplating divorce. As he stands in the kitchen pouring something to drink, his oldest son, Richard, Jr. comes home. Tillman is totally shocked to know his son is out of rehab. Richard, Jr. bullies his father into hiring him at the family business which only compounds Tillman’s worries. One evening, sick with frustration and doubt, Tillman stays late at work. His beautiful secretary finally proves to be too enticing, and afterwards Tillman arrives home quite late and obviously guilt-ridden. Richard, Jr. has left his dinner on the table and is cleaning up the dishes just as Tillman has been doing for years. It’s his first glimmer that maybe, just maybe, things are beginning to turn.

As Tillman climbs into bed, he looks once more at the divorce papers he’s had drawn up and, sighing, places them back into his briefcase. The next evening, Richard, Jr. asks his dad for a ride home. Tillman agrees to take his son home, turning down the offer of another fling with his secretary. It seems Tillman is ready to move forward again with his life.

Tillman, directed by Anthony Padovan and written by Josh Batista, is a short film that examines what it really means to have the American Dream. The American Dream can be complicated and stressful, full of obstacles and pitfalls. One is bound to be disappointed along the way, and one may even struggle to move towards the fulfillment of the Dream. If that sounds depressing, well, it can be. Just watch Tillman to see the struggles that sometimes occur. Life isn’t all little pink houses and white picket fences. But there is a positive message, too. While struggling towards The American Dream can sometimes be difficult, it can also be rewarding, as Tillman sees when he watches his son sell his first car. Tillman never thought his son would amount to anything and, frankly, hoped he didn’t have to face his son once he left rehab. But working with him and watching the beginnings of success have changed his outlook. And though he stumbles when his secretary tempts him at a low ebb in his life, he uses the mistake as a lesson. One gets the sense that Tillman is going to make it, and so too, his family.

Tillman is a story both of struggle as well as survival, and worth taking a look at. The film can be viewed at Youtube by clicking here.