An inspiring story of an unlikely friendship, Doug Roland’s film Feeling Through reminds us of the power of communication. Feeling Through tells the story of Tereek, a lonely homeless teenager (Steven Prescod) who learns to connect when he meets Artie (Robert Tarango), a deaf-blind man who asks for his help getting to a bus stop. A short film, Feeling Through’s concise storytelling offers an impactful but incomplete portrait of one life-changing night.
In Feeling Through’s strongest moments, we watch Tereek learn a new form of communication. Scared, insecure and lying about his homelessness, Tereek can’t express himself honestly with his friends. But meeting Artie challenges him to be clear. When Artie first asks Tereek to take him to the bus stop, Tereek tries to get away with his usual form of communication. Moving Artie in the stop’s direction, Tereek walks away hoping to continue his night. But when he looks back, Artie is still there. His arm out, Artie waits for Tereek to hold him and escort him all the way there. Moments like these push Tereek in a new direction.
But without a deeper exploration of how this affects Tereek’s relationships, Feeling Through‘s ending feels incomplete. Essentially, Roland gives Tereek two emotional threads: His refusal to connect with friends and his refusal to connect with strangers. The second is less compelling. In one scene, we see Tereek snap at a homeless man who asks him for money. Though this is a bad moment, we can imagine many kids under his stress doing the same. But Tereek’s choice to lie is more particular. His willingness to sacrifice a potential support system for pride speaks more to his personality. In the end, Feeling Through favors the other thread, and Tereek learns the importance of helping other people. But with this, we still don’t know if Tereek understands that he needs help too.
Feeling Through is streaming now on YouTube.