Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Programmed as Meet the Cheeks on the festival circuit, writer/directors Tal Sharon and Daniel Barcelowsky's grim 20-minute documentary Cheeks hones in on Joe Cheek, a folk musician living in small-town southern New Jersey with his parents. His family appears serene, placid, and untroubled on the surface, but as the filmmakers probe, startling revelations and deep-seated issues come to light. Joe's father, who berates him endlessly, is a "paranoid schizophrenic fundamentalist," convinced that a "secret society" wants to destroy the family. On the other hand, Joe's weak-willed, bipolar mother lacks the emotional stability necessary to provide her son with much-needed support and encouragement. Trapped helplessly in a psychological and emotional vice, and longing for escape from the family's clutches, Joe's folk songs become his only outlet, his only source of solace and relief.