Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1999. Spanky Pictures, Solaris, River One Films. Story by Angela Shelton, Screenplay by Gavin O’Connor, Angela Shelton. Cinematography by Dan Stoloff. Produced by Greg O’Connor. Music by David Mansfield. Production Design by Bryce Holtshousen. Costume Design by Mimi Maxmen. Film Editing by John Gilroy. Academy Awards 1999. Golden Globe Awards 1999. Gotham Awards 1999. Independent Spirit Awards 1999. Toronto International Film Festival 1999.
Opening the same weekend as Anywhere But Here, this superbly written and directed comedy-drama doesn’t feature the star power of Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman’s maudlin vehicle, but it’s much, much better. Like Wang’s film, it features a mother and daughter team who are moving from place to place in an effort to give the mother a chance to settle down while the daughter internalizes her frustration at not being able to lead a normal life. Janet McTeer brings humour and intelligence to a complicated woman who drags her daughter from town to town and ruins her own life with abusive men who constantly dampen her self-esteem. It’s only a matter of time before her behaviour starts to seriously affect her growing daughter (Kimberly J. Brown) who is herself starting to explore the world of relationships. McTeer’s breathtaking performance is matched by Brown’s, a talented young lady whose performance is among the very best ever seen by a teenager in a film. Gavin O’Connor, who also stars, contributes matchless direction in this heartwarming tale that is a genuine crowd-pleaser without ever having to pander to its audience by going the route of emotional manipulation.