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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

May 11, 2009

10/10 Tear-Drenched Tissues

Dear Zachary: A Letter to A Son About His Father is hands down the best movie of 2008. You probably didn’t hear about this movie when it came out, but don’t let that phase you. It’s better than The Dark Knight, it’s better than Slumdog, and it’s one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. I kid you not, this is not a test.

Dear Zachary is a documentary about a man who is killed by his pregnant girlfriend before she flees to Canada to raise their son, Zachary, and to avoid being tried for the murder on US soil. This synopsis doesn’t really do the movie justice, but I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t let you experience the story for yourself.

The movie is written, directed, edited and produced by Kurt Kuenne, the life-long best friend of the man who is killed. Kuenne structures the plot so that the audience experiences the events of what happens in the same way that he did, and it’s astounding how well it all works. Dear Zachary moves along at a breakneck pace that grabs you by the collar right from the start and you’ll find yourself more than willing to let it drag you along for the ride. It’s incredibly well put-together from a film making standpoint and is unlike any documentary you have ever seen.

If you don’t like documentaries, then do yourself a favor and completely disregard all your pre-formed notions of what you think Dear Zachary is going to be. Put this at the top of your Netflix queue immediately. There is nothing boring about Dear Zachary and you won’t be able to take your eyes off it.

But aside from the technical aspects of what makes Dear Zachary so enthralling, it’s really the story itself that’s beyond belief. You intimately care about the people involved, you want to see where the story’s going, and the whole time you’ll be thinking “Why the hell haven’t I heard about this before?”

I cannot recommend this movie enough, but be warned, it is the emotional roller coaster to end all emotional roller coasters. I’d be laughing out loud one moment and doing the whole “I’ve got something in my eye” bit to hide my manly tears five minutes later. This is not a sappy movie, this is not the documentary of Beaches, but if you can get through this movie without getting a lump in your throat, you might be a Terminator.

This is a movie that anyone can relate to because it’s a real story about real people placed in tragic circumstances that we as human beings can all empathize with. These kinds of movies don’t get made nowadays.

The point is: See. This. Movie. Dear Zachary is why documentaries exist.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2009 6:48 pm

    Just peeped this on netflix… pretty real shit. Makes you think about the human-aspect behind those crazy headlines we read in the paper.

    • December 7, 2009 1:33 pm

      Glad you liked it, man. I loved this movie, the best one of ’08 in fact. Would like to see the director do more stuff, but even if he stopped his career with Dear Zachary, that’s a damn fine career in itself. Good looks.

  2. January 7, 2010 4:33 pm

    Wow, I’ve never heard of it but it sounds like a really interesting film. Must see if any of the rental places here have it… I do love documentaries.

    • January 7, 2010 4:35 pm

      You can stream it on Netflix. Might be hard to find as a rental, highly suggest it though.

  3. alex permalink
    September 10, 2010 2:03 am

    Dude. A little warning somewhere about the baby. I mean, maybe that’s a “spoiler”, but as a mother of a toddler, I wouldn’t have watched it if I had known. Doesn’t mean the movie wasn’t important and well done, but I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t realise your “something in my eye/manly tears” mean things that are now going to give me nightmares. Crap 😦 I’ll give you a tip for straight up movie reviewing- if babies die (in real life or in fiction) say it. It really, really gets to mothers in a way that doesn’t seem to impact the “general populus” and it would be nice to know before seeing a movie if I’m going to finish it wanting to throw up.

    • September 10, 2010 9:05 am

      Man, I could have sworn that I had something written in there as a kind of warning to parents about the movie, my bad and I’ll be changing that asap. Got the same reaction from my parents since I have a 7-year-old brother and I don’t blame you. By the same token, giving away that moment in the movie is a huge spoiler for anyone unfamiliar with the story. Kind of a double-edged sword here, but sorry you had the reaction you did, I agree that a little warning would have helped. Please don’t hate me. I’m just a lowly movie blogger.

      • alex permalink
        September 10, 2010 5:03 pm

        All good, and I get it. The trailer didn’t go there either. And so saying it would totally take the punch out of it (which is good and bad for obvious reasons). I guess I just expect some level of horribly bad, tragic shit to happen to adults, but killing a baby is a whole different level of upset, especially for parents of young children.

        It WAS an amazing documentary and clearly, the activism it inspired in Canada is vitally important. People SHOULD see it. I was just not prepared at all for that.

        I don’t hate you. I like your stuff. Just askin’ for a heads up when it goes from “senseless and tragic” to “this will make parents cry for days and his little face will invade your thoughts and dreams with the horror of it.”

        Sorry. The “curse” of parenthood. At some level, all babies become your babies (even if they are grown- they are always your babies). How the Bagsby’s lived through that, I can’t imagine. I could barely handle the movie… 😦

      • September 13, 2010 11:20 am

        You said it. Those Bagby’s are superhuman to a degree I can’t even fathom. The day I become a dad is probably the day I never watch this movie again, but as is, I’m a huge fan. Will put up a parental disclaimer though, that definitely needs to be in place.

  4. permalink
    July 31, 2012 6:41 pm

    Yeah but chicks get killed all the time just like this…even for *being pregnant*. So some *dude* directer who is bestest friends with the “victim” made him a documentary. Bfd. That what lots of documentaries are.

    Think about it: How desperate would you be to kill yourself and your kid?
    Seriously. That scenario exists. The choice is made every day all over the world in 4th world countries all the way through the 1st world.

    This documentary shows a stalker who could not accept the fact that this woman would never BELONG to him…”Oh he tried so hard…and she didn’t reciprocate…”
    THEN DON’T SCREW HER. Fucking DUH. Jesus. There’s, like, this violin in my closet…but I don’t know how to play it.

    • August 1, 2012 11:28 am

      Oh, man. I don’t know how one takes the girlfriend’s side on this one. That woman was full-out nuts, and I’m at a loss as to how you could paint Andrew Bagby as anything resembling a stalker. Something tells me we’re not gonna be seeing eye-to-eye on this one, dude.


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