Forrest (Todd Blubaugh) is a twentysomething free spirit who lives on his sailboat, using a dirt bike for transport.  He begins noting a young woman hanging around his pier and soon she’s enjoying a ride, then learning to fish and sail herself.  ‘You’re a keeper,’ Forrest tells Everly (Nicola Collie), asking if she’d like to move onto his board with him on Lake “Lotawana.”

Laura's Review: B

Writer/director/cinematographer/editor/colorist Trevor Hawkins makes his feature film debut with a production that would be the envy of much larger budgeted films.  “Lotawana” is beautiful, with strikingly edited montages escorted into the film by Ryan Pinkston’s lovely piano score and top notch sound mix.  Working in familiar territory in his own backyard, the Emmy winning Hawkins surprises us with a love story that keeps us guessing, albeit one which made this viewer question his feelings about the opposite sex.

After watching this couple in idyllic settings on land and water, they seem a natural fit, Everly’s dancing New Zealander as ripe for adventure as the native Missourian.  But the young woman who’s estranged from her parents immediately exhibits a new side of herself when she takes up residence in the tight quarters of Forrest’s boat, feathering their nest with homemade curtains.  Her earlier question – ‘How are you gonna take care of me when we get older, Mr. Lake Man?’ – suddenly seems more serious as we begin to conclude Everly loves the romance but not the reality of Forrest’s lifestyle.  After enduring a tragedy, Everly’s behavior takes a disturbing turn which, ironically, evinces Forrest’s ‘live in the moment’ philosophy.         

One wonders if Hawkins will continue to grow if transplanted from his natural habitat, but take a chance on “Lotawana” and you will be rewarded with heartfelt work from a fledgling filmmaker in full bloom. 

Robin's Review: B

Forrest (Paul Blubaugh) has given up the normal daily grind and lives aboard his sailboat, Lorelei, on a scenic Missouri lake. When he meets a kindred free spirit, Everly (Nicola Collie), a loving bond quickly forms and he asks her to move in and an idyllic life begins, but does not last, in “Lotawana.”

Trevor Hawkins, with his feature debut, wore the many hats of director, writer, editor, cinematographer and financier and staged his feature almost entirely on a sailboat on Lake Lotawana in Missouri through the passing seasons. And, somehow, makes it an idyllic journey for the young couple. Then, Everly learns she is pregnant.

This where the idyll ends and the realities of life begins as Everly blames Forrest for the pregnancy and money, or the lack thereof, problems are always at their heels. This helps to ground the film in real life as the beautiful idyll is shattered.

The first half of the film is so ideally set, with a bevy of beautifully lighted moments, that I started think where this magical place could actually exists. Then, the reality of life comes crashing down on the couple and the idyll ends. This is where “Lotawana” finds its ground and the couples’ hard life takes a dangerous turn.

Director-and-everything-else Hawkins shows his talent on many levels, from eliciting effective performances from his tiny cast to showing a skilled cinematographer’s eye and talent as an editor. He is a fully formed filmmaker and I want to see more.

Mammoth releases “Lotawana” on AppleTV, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, and Vudu on 2/3/22.