Hot Docs 2015 Review: The "Fuckery & Shenanigans" Of FINDERS KEEPERS
I guess the answer largely depends on who you are. If you're Shannon Whisnant of Hickory, NC, the course of action is an obvious one: recognize the oddity for the ripe business opportunity at hand, which is exactly what Whisnant, the capitalist junk-dealer did.
For Shannon, the foot was a calling: one which he wasted no time exploiting by providing the community with a freak show like experience displaying the foot for three bits a gander (1 for kids). If his entrepreneurial senses seem shocking, you can only imagine the surprise of John Wood the day he turned on his television to discover what became of his dismembered limb.
These events would set into motion what can only be described as the most bizarre custody battle to ever see the judicial system. Though Shannon tried to avoid the proceedings by entering a mutually beneficial cahoots agreement with John, when the birth owner of the foot was disagreeable, in the end, only the courts could determine the rightful caretaker of the foot. Would the courts act in favor of John, the man who first lost his foot (in addition to his father) in an airplane crash, then again when he failed to pay the bills for the storage locker? Or Shannon, the man who purchased the locker and all its contents for pawning purposes at a locker auction, fair and square.
The case isn't as black-and-white as one may think, nor are some of the questions raised by Bryan Carberry & Clay Tweel's quirky documentary, Finders Keepers. Though it's unexpectedly captivating to bear witness to the situation's hullabaloo, the unexpected strength of the film comes from its retrospective interviews, which successfully contextualize the psychologies behind the bizarre battle of wits, culminating into a story of class separation, media exploitation, hunger and eventually, humanity. For while the lion's share of extremely entertaining interviews dwell on the asinine "fuckery" of Shannon's attention hungry shenanigans, somehow the incident grows into something far more life enriching than mind-bogglingly stupid.
The cast consists of the faces one expects to see on shamelessly exploitative "reality" shows like Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, or even Jerry Springer, but rather than gawking at its characters for cheap entertainment, what Finders Keepers ends up miraculously exploring are the souls behind the creatures who subject themselves to Jerry Springer audience scrutiny, not to mention the type of individual who would rather hang on to a dismembered limb than deal with far more troubling subjects.
John lost more than a foot in that plane crash, and inconceivably found far more than an adversary in Shannon's curious entitlement over his former body part. As a result, Finders Keepers is a poignant search for love among souls coming to terms with being lost.