“Kingdom of Us” isn’t a flashy documentary. It doesn’t devote many scenes to contemplating the overarching horrors of mental illness or how many families are tragically affected by the suicide of a loved one.
However, Netflix’s latest original documentary does do something far more impressive. It offers a quiet, intimate look into one family’s pain that can never quite be captured by statistics or brief human interest stories.
Filmmaker Lucy Cohen’s documentary follows the aftermath of Paul Shanks’ death. In 2007, Shanks committed suicide, leaving behind his wife Vikie as well as his seven children.
When Paul is first introduced in the film, he’s presented as any other fun-loving dad. The children all tell stories of special trips their father took them on when he wasn’t busy with his music career. These moments are sweet, filled with cute original songs written just for his children and surprise rendezvous to go see the stars.
However, as the film progresses, another side of Paul emerges, one that is ominously and progressively more reserved and borderline obsessed with control. The signs were always there, the documentary quietly argues, but no one saw them.
Through its use of home footage and modern day interviews, Kingdom of Us posits that both men existed within Paul. One was just better hidden.
Read the story at Decider.
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