Synopsis by Mark Deming
Independent filmmaker Douglas Buck wrote and directed this anthology of three short subjects, each of which takes an unflinching look at disturbing secrets lurking beneath the surfaces of several "ordinary" families. In Cutting Moments, a housewife (Nicca Ray) who has come to the end of her rope as she tries to reach out to her emotionally vacant husband (Gary Betsworth) reacts with a shocking act of self-inflicted violence, which soon spirals out of control. In Home, Betsworth stars as an emotionally abusive husband and father (himself the victim of a vindictive and unfeeling parent) whose random and persistent cruelty finally manifests itself in a shocking act of revenge when his wife (Christine Caleo) and daughter (Jayne Deely) take a stand and refuse to obey his commands. And Prologue concerns Billie Anders (Sally Conway), a 17-year-old girl who returns home after a year in a rehabilitation facility following an incident which cost her both hands and put her in a wheelchair. As Billie deals with the many ways in which her friends, her family, and her hometown have changed, she decides to confront the man whose actions caused her pain. The three films featured in Family Portraits were created over a span of seven years and were screened individually at a number of film festivals before being compiled for feature release both theatrically and on video.