I had the pleasure of watching PRODIGAL HUSBAND streaming free on Tubi for the month of November, but I shouldn’t have watched it alone. Luckily, I am the right audience for this film, having been raised in the church and understanding the culture of a family full of multigenerational church-goers. If you’re familiar with having a prayer group and turning to redemption through fellowship and church family, then you’ll be able to really enjoy the theologically sound message of many characters of this film. If you are not familiar and comfortable with this paradigm, this may not be a good film for you. The premise of a ‘prodigal’ character will in and of itself be hard to watch as well as the very contrived affair taking place may be a complete loss of interest on how it all ‘could’ play out. I don’t find the main character, the husband, to be a redeemable character at all, but that’s actually the point of this parable. It’s a counter-cultural message that could be received as traumatic and damaging to women stuck in this cycle of betrayal and could be received as grace for couples looking for any possibility of redemption in a broken and messy world.
Kedar Ellis has a career ending injury. His wife Lydia encourages him to find another job. He loses faith and leaves. Left alone to run the household, Lydia has to keep the family afloat, but, she must find faith, strength and forgiveness.
Writer, director, and leading actress Nancy Bellany is the centerpiece to this film. She is a joy to watch, incredibly thoughtful, and delivers in the end. I continue watching to see where SHE goes, what she does and I am truly frustrated for her. I want her character to have everything, I want her character to be seen. But a story like this will never deliver that satisfaction. The depth of her lows aren’t captured in this movie, that’s where I wish the film had abandoned the husband’s journey and just sat with Lydia. Lydia (Nancy Bellany, SAVED BY GRACE), Ms Mabel (Tyra Hughes, DRUMLINE), and Otis (John C Johnson) all carry this film’s forward momentum and comedy. I found it difficult to enjoy the whole journey behind our leading man, Kedar Ellis played by David K Williams, either by an uneven supporting cast or the nature of the character. He is believably a man rocked by America’s toxic culture of finding a purpose of pride by society’s standards instead of within the culture of the family/community – something brought up a dozen times within the film. Watching him barely struggle in his destructive choices should lay completely on the writing and not on Williams’ shoulders. I must note that my own bias distorts my ability to side with or care for Kedar Ellis, an unsatisfied and mourning man unable to invest in his home-life as much as mid-life-crisis while bulldozing his loving and supporting spouse is a tough one for me. I hate this reality. I hate how women are portrayed as needing to rise in faith to deal with a terrible world and a thoughtless and destructive partner. But that’s real life. So, I should get over it and get back to the point of this particular movie.
This story is loosely based on my family member who went through something similar. Her husband left and I was her listening ear. Eventually as my own marriage started to fail I added the faith component and decided to express my pain through film. …There are four writers: myself, my family member who I based the story on Sonja Bens, then I found Peter Harmon from a film I was a part of years ago, then he recommended Rick Bickerstaff who was a youth pastor and understood my vision.-writer/director nancy bellany
I recommend watching this film alongside a trusted group of people with whom you share a common spiritual language. Don’t watch it alone, it’ll be too frustrating to not have someone to talk with afterwards. I also caution that this will bring up a lot of pain and severely split the audience in the last few seconds. I was satisfied with Lydia’s journey in this story, but I could see a lot of big feelings over the fall out. That’s the point of movies with a message like this. It’s not clean, but it can be good news. I’m not mature enough to be won over by messages of grace in all types of movies, but I know this is a conversation starter worth examining between people with mutual trust and understanding.
My goal for this film is for everyone to see it. I’d love for people in difficult marriages to watch it.-WRITER/DIRECTOR NANCY BELLANY
Actress, Writer, Director Nancy Bellany: Born and raised in New York City from a first generation Haitian-American family, Nancy Bellany was always making people laugh and decided at an early age that she would be an entertainer. After a few years in Atlanta, honing her skills as a comedian, Nancy moved to Los Angeles, CA to pursue her lifelong dream of having her own television show and making movies. Nancy admires the careers and talents of Tyler Perry, Issa Rae, and Oprah Winfrey. Nancy currently produces/ writes/ directs/stars in her own full length feature films including her popular faith based film Saved By Grace currently seen on all streaming platforms and the newly released feature Prodigal Husband.
In between making films, Nancy enjoys creating rap music and currently has a new single “Boy Bye” available on Spotify and ITunes. Nancy also hosts live comedy shows throughout Los Angeles.
(Bellany’s next feature is set in a beauty shop!)
Prodigal Husband can be seen now on: https://bit.ly/ProdigalHusband (Yes it’s streaming free on Tubi through November)
After November, it will be available on these platforms:
- VUDU – https://bit.ly/3eIWxBU
- fandangoNow – https://bit.ly/3n96XOf
- Hoopla – https://bit.ly/32vsR6h
- Amazon – https://amzn.to/3lhDkdd
Find Nancy Bellany and support her indie film journey here:
- Instagram: @nancybellanycomedy
- Facebook: Nancy Bellany Comedien
- Website: www.nancybellany.com