The Blessing is a contemplative documentary that juxtaposes Lawrence, a despairing and conflicted middle-aged Navajo man, with the struggle of his teenaged daughter, Caitlyn, who is coming to terms with her being different from others. The setting is the vast rugged terrain of the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
Lawrence’s conflict stems from the economic necessity of laboring in a coal mine on his tribe’s sacred land. Caitlyn agonizes over her natural need to be different from what gender codes dictate a female should be. For examples: her interest in playing football with boys and being, as she puts it, “a woman who can love both the beauty of both men and women.” Throughout it all, both father and daughter love one another deeply.
The Blessing contains evocative moments of sacred ritual and prayer that are profoundly moving. The desolate beauty of the rocky desert is palpable. Heartfelt themes of gender nonconformance add to the film’s texture. Directors Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein keep it simple, but that approach is powerful, as this is a documentary that carries a woeful and wounded sense of a way of life coming to an end.
Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival
Through Apr. 28