Against the backdrop of political tensions, drug cartels, and kidnappings by revolutionary soldiers, Miracle Fishing takes audiences into the worst year of the Hargrove family’s lives: the year dad, husband, and friend, Tom Hargrove, was held for ransom by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia). As a community of friends and family work toward Tom’s release, the documentary shows the complex emotions of losing someone and daring to hope that everything will end like a feel-good movie and not a grim reality. Told through a series of home videos, Miles Hargrove depicts a very raw and real look at what it’s like to be told: “6 million dollars or your dad dies.”
Shortly after the introductions of the Hargroves and their friends, Tom is kidnapped at a seemingly routine police checkpoint. After the criminals demand ransom, the Hargrove family faces tasks no family prepares for. They must find a negotiator, set up secure phone lines, secure the money, get proof of life, and make the drop. Between moments of tense negotiation and months of silence, the Hargrove family seeks to find hope even as the situation becomes progressively more hostile.
“…depicts a very raw and real look at what it’s like to be told: ‘6 million dollars or your dad dies.'”
Miracle Fishing is an incredibly raw film; the entirety of the film is compromised of actual home videos made by Miles Hargrove during the 300-plus days his father was held captive. The video quality is noticeably shot on a 90s camcorder. Despite the poor resolution, this homemade quality gives the film a very authentic feel. You watch the actual video sent by the kidnappers to instill fear in the Hargrove’s and witness their real-time reactions to each negotiation. Even through grainy VHS picture quality, the emotional arcs and constant tension still resonate throughout the film.
I found Miracle Fishing to be a very moving documentary. The film bravely displays the struggles of isolation, paranoia, and the constant unknowns of Tom’s captivity. It gives a truly genuine take on a horrific situation and puts complex emotions on center stage in a way that only the real experience could. Though, there are candid moments throughout the film that disrupt the pace and moments that feel out of place in the overall narrative. Despite these moments, Miracle Fishing puts the viewer directly into the living room of the Hargrove’s during every heated negotiation, hopeful “proof of life,” and tense ransom drop.
"…bravely displays the struggles of isolation, paranoia, and the constant unknowns..."