Jim Kohlberg’s directorial debut centres on a father and son relationship. When Gabriel moved out of the house after an argument, his parents (Cara Seymor, J.K.Simmons), think they have lost their son. Indeed, it takes 20 years before they see him again. After a brain tumour operation the young man suffers from severe amnesia. He has no memory of events past 1970. With the help of music therapist (Julia Ormond) his memory is partly re-activated. His father Henry, who once loathed the son’s musical taste, wants to make up and is searching for any old records. He even learns the lyrics, discovering bands like Cream, The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Re-living Gabriel’s (Lou Taylor Pucci) teenage years he has an emotionally rewarding time. Through a radio competition he wins two tickets for a live performance of Gabriel’s favoured band, Grateful Dead. Sadly, this is the end of their time together. Henry does not survive his second heart attack. Who is going to joke and sing along with Gabriel who is stuck in his 1960’s time capsule?
The film is based on Dr. Oliver Sacks’ case study “The Last Hippie”. He worked with his patient for 15 years (from 1977). Oliver Sacks is probably the best-known neurologist world-wide. I was most intrigued by one of his first books The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. With his books and numerous articles in journals he has made science understandable for the man on the street, earning him a number of distinguished university awards.