When asked to be privileged enough to pre-screen this before release, I gladly excepted with the utterly wrong notion that it was a documentary about fly fishing. I knew I would not be bored, as I like the outdoors, but I simply do not love them as much as some people. Doesn't matter. Break down all your preconceived notions and buckle up for a ride with two different people who met in the mountains of Colorado. JT first tells us in the Gulf that first morning that "It's as if you are seeing a beautiful woman, you don't have the ability to do anything except what naturally comes in the situation" while fishing.
The first time we are shown Alex known as "Xenie" in the film, he is swearing profusely at the steep winds and inability to do things exactly his way during a quick cast of the line. He is a timber man, an ultimate Paul Bunyan; who hauls wood around the mountains and has a passion for fishing maybe unmatched by anyone alive. He keeps meticulous records, and has tens of thousands of photographs of catches. I thought of the 1970's novel "Sometimes a Great Notion" about Hank Stamper, the logging man of the Pacific Northwest.
Immediately recognizing that Xenie's temper is absolutely what makes him a good fisherman, JT makes a few phone calls and organizes a trip to Canada with his nearly long lost pal, who lives on his own terms while JT is very caught up on the phone, in a marina rental/refurbishing type of business. Even though he is close to the water, JT feels as if his fishing has been neglected, and the two set off to Canada to do what they do best.
A pristine craft produced by Kahlil Hudson from Alaska; someone who has Discovery Channel notches on his belt, this really begins to soar about 20 minutes in. We are told that the mountain men who made America don't get much respect anymore, and about the lost culture of the respect of land. Living in Colorado for seven years myself, I saw some of the familiar peaks and valleys off of I-70 that I had known and wandered in. These catapulted me into a heap of questions needing metaphysical and spiritual answers in my college days.
A profile of how the most peaceful valley can breed angst, I am amazed at the perfection in this story. "Film lite" or watered down fluff has a certain potential for profit these days. And when you give people something gritty that is not film lite, like "Kids" amongst other films showed us in the 90's, we true connoisseurs chew it slowly and value it's integrity. "Low and Clear" is a homage to the stress of a relationship, the beauty of America, and the sorcery of fine craft.
We all need healing in these times of near feudalism and strife, and here we are given a sliver. Hopefully convincing cubicle dwellers, students, and stressed out people everywhere to don hiking boots and get out into the wild, "Low and Clear" shines immensely, an achievement of the most exciting caliber.