Well, R86, and a few moments later with Ry brushing Russo's hair out of her eyes before they shoot, and Russo holding the newborn baby. What moved me in the final shots was how much of these people's stories, how much of their memories are at the beach, how the ocean was such a powerful visual metaphor for this story, its depth, its motion, its tide like an enduring rhythm of life itself, its darkness and murkiness. It was well done.
Points for the classy inclusion of a Low song on the soundtrack.
I mostly agree with R85, certainly - having been there myself - in terms of how the legal system perverts reality, exempts nuance (there is NO room for nuance in a legal proceeding) and hardens stances. However, I do not think that Cris was right - the mothers were right to distance themselves from her and Cris revealed why. She was not a mediator. She took sides. And as she said what she said, I thought a darkness was revealed in her - not an evil but what she revealed justified the moms position with her. At best, Tom was like an uncle (and I speak as one myself), not a father and certainly not a parent. He may or may not have been responsible with Ry, I'm not questioning that; but he never did the hard graft of parenting, of spending every waking moment of your day concerned about your child's welfare. At best, he was a fun uncle, or a babysitter, and that's a BIG difference. It's easy to look back - decades after the case - and minimise the threat that was posed at the time, a threat he made manifest by suddenly taking them to court. Listen up, kids: once you take someone to court, it's over. That relationship is OVER. Did he think he was going to win and just rub it in the mom's faces? People here are like, the moms diminished him - he completely excised Russo from the court room! How was that NOT warping reality? How could Tom be a top lawyer and say something like, "I had no idea how much energy and time and effort this case was going to take." WHERE was he practicing law? In The People's Court?
Tom had his own reasons for pursuing that but his motives were not altruistic and were somehow wound up in facing his own mortality and wanting to feel he'd achieved something that would outlive him - that was clear in the video when he described his reward as being "the court acknowledged I was the father." Ry doesn't weep for him as a father; she wept for him as a lost soul.
Ry Russo-Young is a canny filmmaker and she teased out the threads of this a bit to pad the final hour. (Or like the narration that went, "I never spoke to Tom again - pause pause pause - un-til..." She's knows what her job is.) She did it delicately but - as someone who's worked in factual programming - the scene with her moms seemed like kind of thing a commissioner would push a filmmaker to do after viewing a rough cut OR after they saw the interview with Cris. It shows what supportive and loving parents her moms are that they sat for it and confronted those feelings but neither seemed particularly shaken or fearful of it - I laughed when Russo said "FUCK HIM" which is pretty much how EVERY litigant feels about anyone who takes them to court UNTIL THEIR DYING DAY. (I still occasionally google a former employer's name who took me to civil court - followed by the word "obituary". I was also pleased to see in less than 5 years after she took me to court, her company folded. Good. Doesn't make me a bad person, certainly not after what that fucking bitch put me through for nearly 2 years - and I WON!) The moms weren't just protecting Ry, they were protecting their family and decades later they have a LOT to show for that. As Ry asked them those really tough questions and they engaged with her on the subject I thought, my gawd, my parents (one of them dead now) wouldn't even talk with me - as an adult! - about their homophobia or the Catholic church or why they've always voted against me, much less ANY questions about their parenting! AT ALL. The moms are really extraordinary parents.