“Must Read After My Death” was scrawled in marker on an envelope found by Morgan Dews, left behind by his grandmother, Allis. It was part of a living history “ and a secret one “ of tapes, records, home movies and transcripts detailing Allis’ chilly marriage to Charley, and her reluctance of playing mom to their four children. Dews has turned the hours into 73 of the most compelling minutes you’ll see all year.
The documentary contains no talking-head interviews; all you absorb is what Allis and her family committed to film and audio, and it’s quite a doozy. Their evidence peels away at the layers of the notion of the happy American suburban family unit, post-World War II “ much like “Revolutionary Road,” minus the fiction.
Allis and Charley’s union was unconventional to say the least. Their marriage was apparently open, and his work travels kept him away, but we hear messages sent to his wife about the lovely dancing partners he seduced, and how much he enjoyed it. For the most part, Allis is too busy with keeping house to get hers, so to speak, and it’s but one grudge that burrows deep.
Arguments escalate into near-violence, and inevitably, the story spirals into tragedy. Dews does a remarkable job of piecing together this stark-naked narrative, wrapping it in an entrancing score by Paul Damian Hogan. The result is a true-life tale guaranteed to haunt.
“Must Read” is a must-see. While it’s playing in limited release on the coasts, Oklahomans can see it here .