The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician, recently deceased, tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father's ex-students who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs.
Gifted 18-year-old Meg has been abandoned by her father and neglected by her hardworking mother. Left to care for her emotionally disturbed younger sister, her world begins to unravel. She finds an outlet in writing poetry and support from her English teacher, Mr. Auster. But what started out as a mentoring relationship begins to get a bit more complex. Written by
Ah, the romantic enigma that is the English teacher. Only Hollywood could bring these bookworms into the heroic light usually reserved for legendary leaders and men of action. Look at Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society" and you'll find the prime example of this species. A man who moves throughout his classroom spouting lines of inspiration as important as any presidential address. A voice who encourages his students to embrace their independence and seize the day.
Now meet David Strathairn as Auster in "Blue Car". A man who actually looks and acts like the disheveled English teacher you had in high school. An inspiration only to those too lost and vulnerable to find it elsewhere. Like Meg - an 18 year old girl whose gift for poetry is the only good thing to emerge from an otherwise miserable life.
Played by Agnes Bruckner in a brilliantly understated performance, Meg writes about what she knows. And, unfortunately for her, all she knows is pain. The pain of her parent's divorce and the abandonment she felt when her father drove away for one last time in his blue car. While her classmates laugh at her poem, her teacher pulls her aside and tells her to "dig deeper". At first, it appears he may be trying to further untap her hidden talent, and help her to begin a kind of healing process. But, as he takes her under his wing, his motives seem to grow less noble and more selfish as it appears he is the one in need of healing.
Writer/Director Karen Moncrieff takes on an obvious point of view for the film. In every scene, we can't help but connect with Meg. Everyone seems to want a piece of her. From her mother to a passing acquaintance with a true delinquent, we watch as they befriend her and then cast her aside after she fufills their need. After a while, you just sit back and begin to wonder how much more of this she can take.
It should come as no surprise then that the relationship she nurtures is the one with Auster. In her mind, he can be all things for her - mentor, friend, lover, and most of all, father. It is her changing view of him that anchors the film and, when she finally sees him for what he is, leads her to an ending we can only hope will be better for her.
Rating [on a 5 star system] : 3 1/2 stars
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