Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father2008

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)



Critic Consensus: Dear Zachary is a both a touching tribute to a fallen friend and a heart-wrenching account of justice gone astray, skillfully put to film with no emotion spared.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father Photos

Movie Info

Shortly after his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby, was slain by jealous ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne was shocked to learn that Turner was pregnant with Bagby's unborn child. Hoping to create a film that would serve as both a memorial to Bagby and an introduction to the father the boy would never know, Kuenne quickly began production on a film celebrating the life of his late friend. Traveling across the entire continental United States, Kuenne made it his personal mission to interview everyone who had ever known his best friend so their memories would be captured on camera before they faded. Meanwhile, upon learning that Turner had fled to Newfoundland, Bagby's devastated parents uprooted their entire lives and relocated to the easternmost providence of Canada in order to fight for the future of their newborn grandson, Zachary. During the production, however, the Canadian government freed Turner on bail as she awaited extradition to the United States. Unfortunately, during that crucial time, the situation took a turn for the worse -- a turn that could have been prevented had the Canadian justice system heeded all the warning signs. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Watch it now


View All

Critic Reviews for Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (14)

The most ambitious work of its kind.

February 26, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Just take our advice and bring tissues. You're going to need them.

November 25, 2008 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A slick account of ancient crevices in the human psyche rendered in cutting-edge cinematic style.

November 20, 2008 | Full Review…

A manipulative, tearjerking thriller that, functioning as a sustained, anguished primal scream, is as emotionally devastating as any film, fiction or non-, released this year.

November 9, 2008 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

An undeniably shattering story, if forgivably shaky in its impassioned, therapeutic unfolding.

November 7, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

Dear Zachary earns its right to engage us on a primal level, but it comes on the heels of so many films that don't, movies that...prey on modern fears and inflate third-rate material to the plane of tragedy.

November 3, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

As a love letter to a friend, father, son and victim of someone's psychopathy and lunacy (as well as a testimony to the resilience of two incredibly stoic grandparents amid a horrible tragedy), this is a beautiful, touching and absolutely devastating documentary like few others.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

After watching this heart-wrenching documentary, I lost faith in the judicial system, child protective services, law enforcement and humanity in general. This documentary tears at you, and sends you down a dark and twisted rabbit hole. I felt saddened, angry, disgusted and just appalled at how the whole case turned out, and the extreme sadness that the actions of one person can do to a family. I hope that everyone can take something out of this movie.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

One of the more poignant documentaries I for one have ever seen, Dear Zachary is a love letter, a sermon, and a condolence to all those that loved friend, Andrew Bagby. His friend, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, looks at his friend's past through films, documents, testimonials from friends and family, and the lens of his camera. Andrew was murdered, in a horrific crime supposedly perpetrated by his then girlfriend, Dr. Shirley Turner. Kuenne follows the criminal proceedings of her trial while simultaneously exploring the life of a dear friend who seemed beloved by all that met and adored him. Kuenne seems to distance himself at times from the prospect of dredging up the details of the savage shooting of his friend, though he does let himself break down, just once, at the prospect of losing his last link to his past. Besides being interesting due to the premise of the film and the charisma of the focal point, Kuenne has an innovative voice and presence within the film as narrator, that truly ties it together. This could easily have been another special on TrueTV or an inane filler piece on the news, but Kuenne lends truth and clarity to the life of someone he grew up with, and watched die. He shows the anger, the hostility, and the utter madness of Shirley Turner, who evades capture in Canada and plays a cat and mouse game with Andrew's parents after revealing she is pregnant. The film becomes a letter to the child, who will never meet his father and is under the duress of his lunatic mother. Using taped phone conversations, found footage, and photographs to show the progression of Zachary's life and the unraveling of his mother under the pressures of her child, Kuenne documents love for someone who is still just a child. It is a heartbreaking and saddening film that makes you always tear up, even at the thought that such injustice can let stand. It's unlike many documentaries out there, and it brings to light the lack of regulation on extradition laws and psychological standards in Canada. Gripping throughout, this is one film that is a must see and possibly one of the best in its genre.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features