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... See full summary »
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Michael MicQuick Davis,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Tumbleweeds" (1999) stars Janet McTeer and Kimberly J. Brown as a mother and daughter in this semi-road movie slice-of-life. Mary Jo (the mother) is a quality soulhumble, honest, bold, down-to-earth and optimisticyet she's perpetually attracted to the wrong men and has been married four times, but at least she has the smarts to leave when abuse starts. Ava (the daughter) is about 12-13 and is weary of being a living tumbleweed; she understandably wants to stay in San Diego where she finds herself finally establishing roots. Michael J. Pollard has a small role as Mary Jo's boss while Gavin O'Connor, Jay O. Sanders and Laurel Holloman have more significant roles.
"Tumbleweeds" only cost $312,000 in 1999, which goes to show that you can make a quality film with good actors on a shoestring budget. The second half is better than the first half and so it takes a while to immerse oneself into the world of the characters. The film won my respect in the second half with an impressive scene in the camper between Ava and Dan (Sanders).
Speaking of Ava, she's a good kid, but there are a couple of scenes where she gets on your nerves, like blowing bubbles at the dinner table and reading Shakespeare in the restaurant (more on this below). I also didn't like the faddish shaky camera, which I'm sure was done to add a tone of realism. Women will appreciate this film more than I did because the entire movie revolves around the mother & daughter as best friends and their drama & antics, most of which is fun, but some tacky and verging on crude (I said "verging").
I should add that I appreciate the way Jack (O'Connor) wasn't displayed as an over-the-top bad boyfriend. His criticisms on various situations were reasonable, but read below for further commentary.
The film runs 102 minutes and was shot entirely in Southern California.
INSIGHTS ON THE STORY ***SPOILERS***
Ava instinctively recognizes Jack as the sort of man that her mother would inevitably leave, which explains why she immediately plans an "escape route." This doesn't mean Jack is all bad, not at all, just that he was the type of guy her mother would eventually leave, not to mention Ava didn't sense any affinity with him. As such, she does annoying things to provoke Jack so her mother doesn't waste precious time with the wrong guy. By contrast, Ava picks up on Dan's warmth and integrity, which attracts her to him and, later, her mother. The ending is left open in regards to the future of Dan and Mary Jo, but it's assumed they will develop a lasting romantic relationship. Mary Jo just needs time to establish her life with Ava in their new home without the need of having a man, while Dan needs to take a trip with his camper to heal from his residual grief.
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