Uncertain introduces the wider world to the marvelously named town of Uncertain, Texas, population 94, on the shores of Caddo Lake, whose other side is in Louisiana. Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands’s doc centers around three Uncertain men: Wayne, a recovering addict now obsessed with hunting a particularly elusive wild boar he’s named Mr. Ed for his horse-like snout; Henry, an avid fisherman and widower confronting mortality; and Zach, the youngest of the three, struggling with alcoholism and some serious physical problems while dreaming of getting out and moving to Austin.
Uncertain is quite pretty to look at, with many slow tracking shots on boats drifting through the bayou setting a palpable sense of place, but the sound, designed and mixed by Jacob Ribicoff, proves the technical standout here: Uncertain is also a delight to listen to, particularly during those long bayou shots, which become fully, organically immersive. The elegant form only slightly overshadows the content, as the filmmakers discover in Uncertain a fractal of the United States as a whole but lack the time to fully examine every interesting thing they find; there’s one subplot involving an ecological crisis of sorts concerning weevils that could be its own film but that the filmmakers end up eliding slightly. Still, the extended and extensive looks at Wayne, Henry, and Zach’s lives yield some vital insights into the life of the rural American man, namely that he has not one face, but many, and contains multitudes. Uncertain is a film content to be small, one that knows that every atom is a universe.
Directed by Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands
Opens March 9, MoMA and IFP Made in NY Media Center