‘American Real: The Forrest Lucas Story’ Review

By Isaac Whatley
    Forrest Lucas is a man who redefined the motor oil industry by bringing nearly two-hundred new quality oil products into the market. Through determination and hard work, he built a name for himself when he founded Lucas Oil Products, a company that is recognized across the globe.  American Real: The Forrest Lucas Story is the epitome of films one should expect to see at the Heartland Film Festival. With its heartwarming message and inspirational content, this film tells the story of Forrest Lucas’s triumphant journey from childhood poverty to multimillionaire.
     When one looks at the founder of Lucas Oil Products and sees the brand name on store shelves around the globe, a common thought might be to correlate that image with one of wealth. This documentary, however, introduces the fact that Lucas’s childhood was one of poverty, as the film opens with Lucas walking through his childhood home. With interviews and accounts from Lucas and his three sisters, we discover some of the hardships that the siblings went through as children, ranging from fear of starvation to living with an alcoholic father. These hardships, however, are what would eventually drive Lucas forward towards success, as the films expresses.

Apart from taking us into the past of Lucas, this film shows viewers the shining personality and caring attitude that is so evident in Lucas’s life. With a smile almost constantly on his face, Lucas guides the audience through his story by sharing both the good, bad, and comical aspects of his journey. Viewers get to take a look inside the Lucas Oil Products bottling plant as Lucas and his wife Charlotte tell stories of how the company was formed and with some of the exciting times they experienced as the company took off.

This film is a beautiful story, and the interviews that are included in the film show just how much the Lucas family cares for each other. To see Forrest return to his home and finally find peace with his troubled past is incredible, and the film does an excellent job at capturing the emotional experience that Lucas underwent in overcoming a less-than-happy childhood.

From a production standpoint, this film is spectacular. When watching a documentary, one wouldn’t normally expect to see anything more than simple interviews overlaid with pictures or b-roll. However, in American Reel: The Forrest Lucas Story, the cinematography is just as beautiful as the story being told by the film. From the first scene of the movie, it is made clear that this film was not shot in a manner traditional to documentaries. Through the use of long, sweeping steady-cam shots, and several other techniques you might find in a feature film, this movie feels like so much more than a story being told by someone sitting in a chair. When asked in a Q&A session following the screening about filming the movie, Director Brad Grimm explained that his crew used cameras that are not usually used in filming documentaries. He went on to say that they implemented the use of very high-resolution cameras to bring a crystal-clear look to the film. This was evident as the actual footage in the film looked stunning.

Between the inspiring story of a powerful man making peace with his Indiana home, and a visually stunning work of art, this film is definitely worth the watch. If you enjoy stories that focus on home life, or if you have any connections to the midwest, this is a film for you because of its breath-taking story and beautiful cinematography.

Verdict: Incredible, If you enjoy a film that shows a family sticking together, and hard work paying off, this film is for you.
Positives: Excellent cinematography, heartwarming story.
Negatives: Could elaborate on the story more.