Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
United Kingdom/USA, 2001. Renaissance Films, Vulcan Productions, Infilm, Killer Films, Ontario Film Development Corporation. Screenplay by Rose Troche, based on the stories by A.M. Homes. Cinematography by Enrique Chediak. Produced by Dorothy Berwin, Christine Vachon. Music by Barb Morrison, Charles Nieland, Nance Nieland. Production Design by Andrea Stanley. Costume Design by Laura Jean Shannon. Film Editing by Geraldine Peroni.
So many movies dissecting suburban life in America have been made (American Beauty, The Ice Storm, etc.) that this bland multi-familied tale of four very different groups of people doesn’t really stand a chance. The centre of their lives is a teenager (Joshua Jackson) who was paralyzed in a car accident that no one wants to talk about. Jackson’s mother (Glenn Close) has lost herself in caring for him, to the point of alienating her daughter, while his father doesn’t even want to deal with him at all. The woman next door (Patricia Clarkson), with whom Jackson was having an affair before the accident, deals with the lack of financial support she gets from her ex-husband (Jamie Sheridan). Meanwhile, neighbours Dermot Mulroney and Moira Kelly have to decide what to do now that he has lost his job. All these families’ hopes, dreams and desires are summed up in a shopping mall contest that dares its contestants to stand for hours at a time in order to win a brand new car. The screenplay’s intentions are definitely good ones, but none of the characters are particularly likeable and the story’s bleak tone is relentless. A subplot involving Timothy Olyphant dealing with his personal loss is particularly infuriating.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2001