Naomi’s son Brent died a year ago. To this day, she still opens up his art gallery. By her side is her faithful daughter-in-law Ruth, Brent’s widow. Business is getting slower and slower but both women find comfort in each other’s presence and in being surrounded by Brent’s paintings. When a customer wants to buy the most valuable piece they have; Brent’s first painting, conflict arises between the two women. Ruth does not want to let go of the painting. This incident forces Naomi to reflect on her relationship with Ruth. She wonders whether it is healthy for Ruth to remain in this environment and if it is keeping her from moving on. When Naomi decides to sell the painting, they end up fighting. Naomi explains that she feels worried that Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi and the art gallery keeps her from living her life. As Naomi tries to wrap up the painting for shipping, Ruth unwraps it again and places it back in the gallery. In the end, Naomi sees no other option than to fire Ruth from the art gallery and set her free completely.
This film is an adaptation of the Book of Ruth and focuses specifically on the character of Naomi. Naomi loses both her sons and decides to travel back home to Bethlehem. She reassures both her daughters-in-law, Ruth and Oprah, that they are free to go and do not have any obligation to stay with her. Ruth, ever faithful, stays loyal to Naomi and travels with her to Bethlehem. While the original story often focuses on the selflessness and loyalty of Ruth, what I find interesting is that Naomi demonstrates the very same qualities through the act of freeing her daughters-in-law. Naomi has lost her children, yet still she considers the wellbeing of Ruth and Oprah. Turpentine will explore that moment when Naomi is able to release her daughters-in-law and let go of that last link to her deceased children. My film is set a year after the death of Naomi’s son, when Naomi and Ruth have forged a strong bond over their shared grief. This powerful story about loyalty and compassion between two women raises the question 'when to hold on and when to let go'.