Written by Taylor Baker
“I wanted to be fabulous.”
There’s a lovely lyrical patina to the patter of Bo McGuire and his family as they recollect, re-enact, and discuss the aftermath of the death of his grandmother. Socks on Fire details the “war” waged over the estate left in the wake of her death between a homophobic aunt and drag queen uncle in Hokes Bluff, Alabama. It’s a biting look at the historic honor culture found in the South, framed against a dazzling tale of identity, honesty, and personal experience.
Bo McGuire’s camera darts around the forest, train tracks, downtown Hokes Bluff, and the houses of family and friends. All this while jumping back to historical footage highlighting and underlining the experiences of growing up as McGuire and his predecessors had. A boy tied to a flagpole, a gun at the Burger King, a cedar chest, the idea of self and it’s boundaries,Bo’s background in poetry is on full display and expressed via image as well as dialogue and narration. Socks on Fire serves as love note, and familial processing in lieu of an actual reconciliation between two halves of a whole.
It’s the heart of the film’s subjects that constantly rings through. Lingering and alighting somewhere in your chest as you watch. An undeniable sense of transferred feelings, of meaning, that so many pictures search for and never find. The quick pointed story on how Mama worked on hands and knees for just a little bit of money for Bo’s Easter shoes, accentuates the previous pummeling we’ve taken as viewers to the character of Mama. Further emphasized by his decadent cowboy boots in the next scene while he starts up a weed whacker to trim up Nanny’s grave.
“What do you do with the parts of you that people don’t want you to sing?”
Socks on Fire Trailer
Socks on Fire is currently playing as part of the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival you can purchase a ticket to it here. Socks on Fire initially premiered last year at the Tribeca 2020 Film Festival and won Best Documentary.