THE WANTEDS are a band, but for the purposes of Portland director Stephanie Smith's film of the same name, The Wanteds is a man. The project apparently began as little more than a fun idea: Document the shoestring tour of bubblingly self-confident then-solo musician Tommy Harrington as he set out to wow mostly empty rooms across America. And the first act of The Wanteds does as much, inflicting little more on its audience than the foreboding worry that this earnest unknown is setting himself up for heartbreak.
But when Harrington discovers the girlfriend he's just dumped is pregnant, The Wanteds begins documenting something different: Harrington grappling with the prospect of parenthood and the (probably literally) lifesaving solace that, as the product of a childhood home victimized by hideous abuse, he finds in the pursuit of his music. Smith's gradual unveiling of Harrington's choice between the only refuge he's ever known and the opportunity to rectify the damaged father-son dynamics in his life is utterly wrenching.
Unexpectedly dark and intimate, Smith may not have planned on a final product with this much emotional weight, but she has proven her ability to carry it.