A woman constantly runs from town to town with her 12 year old daughter to escape failed relationships. The film opens with one escape and the shift into a new start in San Diego. There Mom...
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A woman constantly runs from town to town with her 12 year old daughter to escape failed relationships. The film opens with one escape and the shift into a new start in San Diego. There Mom takes up with a controlling trucker and fights with her weirdo boss. Meanwhile, the daughter, used to making the constant shifts, finds a fit at school including getting chosen for a play lead. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
In "Join Together," the Who sang, "It's the singer, not the song/That makes the music move along," and that can be true of certain kinds of movies as well. TUMBLEWEEDS is surely not the first mother/daughter film ever made, even this year. I haven't seen ANYWHERE BUT HERE yet(though the novel it was based on is quite good), but TUMBLEWEEDS distinguishes itself from the crowd by its attention to detail and character, and the performances. Director/co-writer(with ex-wife Angela Shelton) Gavin O'Connor makes San Diego come alive, from the office Mary Jo(Janet McTeer) works in, to the beach, and the small houses she and her daughter Ava(Kimberly Brown) end up living in. And except for perhaps Mary Jo's boss(well-played by Michael J. Pollard), who is a caricature(albeit a funny one), every character here is well drawn. Even Jack(O'Connor), the trucker Mary Jo ends up with in San Diego who later turns bad, is well-drawn; we're never meant to see him as completely bad, though he does have his darker side.
But the real reason to see this is the performances of the two leads. McTeer and Brown are fresh faces to movie audiences, which means they have no image to distract us from the story, but it also means they bring nothing we know from them to the part, so they have to start fresh. And they respond with wonderful and realistic performances. McTeer doesn't turn Mary Jo into the stereotype of an oversexed woman or the insufferably noble mother but as a woman who wants to do right but isn't always sure how. And Brown doesn't make Ava overly cute or precocious, but a recognizable kid who nevertheless has to be the adult at times. The two of them also have a terrific bond together as well, and like a character late in the film they meet, O'Connor the director knows enough not to intrude on that.
One last note; some comments have dismissed this entirely because it's familiar. Are you the same people who will gladly see a hundred SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE clones or THE MATRIX clones and not complain about them being familiar? As I said at the top, sometimes the telling can distinguish a familiar tale.
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