The Monarch of Crystal Falls is a visually dramatic and emotionally uplifting film about The Morgans, a fractured family living in the crumbling Americana town of Crystal Falls. The story centers around the middle son Charlie, a war photographer who returns to the picturesque town and family farm after a ten-year absence. He has spent the last decade of his life documenting genocides, famines, wars, and unspeakable human suffering, all through the up-close and personal viewfinder of his camera. Pulled home by his father’s ill health, and his sister’s upcoming wedding, Charlie begins to slip back into the awkward dynamic of his family, where little seems to have changed since the untimely death of his twin brother so many years earlier. These relationships slowly rise to a boil as we discover that Charlie has burdened himself with a startling family secret since childhood.
Charlie’s older brother Bobby has remained on the farm all these years, even though he too has longed to travel and explore the world, but has simply lacked the courage to take that first step away from home. The two brothers painstakingly begin to spend time together again, often times fishing out on the very lake that took the life of their younger brother Georgie. Bobby’s girlfriend Laura, a wanderlust filled painter who has grown restless with life on the farm, becomes immediately fascinated by the arrival of Charlie. Her enchantment towards Charlie, coupled with the weight of their childhood and their own tightlipped and indirect nature with one another, causes for an uneasy tension between the brothers. At times, the only family member Charlie truly feels a connection with and a sense of understanding from, is his Aunt Rose; the vivacious, tender, and quick-witted younger sister of his father.
As Charlie grapples with both his own war torn past, and the complex thorny relationships with his family, he encounters several dynamic characters that help him find the answer to a question he didn’t even realize he was asking. A mysterious little boy transports Charlie back to his own youthful innocence, and the two rediscover the rich natural landscape from the faded memory of his own childhood. Sadie Lynn Calloway glides into his world with the spirit and vigor of the young idealistic teenage dreamer he once was, taking him on a journey that challenges his mind and heart alike. And then there is Dr. Al, a whimsical pilgrim on his never ending journey up and down the spine of North America, in search of his own lost soul, which he believes lives somewhere in the delicate flight of the Monarch Butterflies. Dr. Al’s deep insight of a unique group of Monarchs helps guide Charlie through his own metamorphosis, and finally realize that in life the most important idea is not how or why certain things happen to us, but rather, what do we do now because they have. Who do we choose to become?
The film will be heavily guided by imagery, sound, and Nature; set against visually stunning exterior environments in Crystal Falls, the Grand Canyon, and the Monarch Butterfly sanctuaries of Michoacan, Mexico.