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Dandelion (2004)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,763 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 20 user | 18 critic | 7 from Metacritic.com

In a small town of rolling fields and endless skies, isolated 16 year old Mason lives in a world where families exist in fragmented silence and love seems to have gone missing. Then Mason ... See full summary »

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Title: Dandelion (2004)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Luke Mullich
...
Layla Mullich
...
Eddie
...
Mrs. Voss
Marshall Bell ...
Uncle Bobby
...
Arlee
...
Sheriff Teft
Don Alder ...
Daryl
...
Train Guy
Edward Thomas Jr. ...
Will Chavers
Don Stroud ...
Print Shop Clerk (as Donnie Stroud)
Steven Weyte ...
Judge Cobb
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Storyline

In a small town of rolling fields and endless skies, isolated 16 year old Mason lives in a world where families exist in fragmented silence and love seems to have gone missing. Then Mason meets Danny, a sensitive and troubled girl, and their tender bond is soon tested after a fatal accident and a series of complications takes Mason away for something he didn't do. Upon his return, the two find what they're looking for - but with tragic consequences. Written by IMDB Editors

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Everything begins somewhere.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug and alcohol use, violent images, sexuality and language - all involving teens
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Details

Official Sites:

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Language:

Release Date:

27 January 2006 (Turkey)  »

Also Known As:

Into the Sun  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although they where playing teenager characters, by the time of shooting Vincent Kartheiser (Mason Mullich) and Taryn Manning (Danny Voss) were 23 and 24, respectively. See more »

Quotes

Mason Mullich: Sometimes you lose things. Then you get them back
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 20th IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

It's a Wonderful Life
Written by Mark Linkous
Performed by Sparklehorse
Courtesy of Capitol Records Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Hauntingly Beautiful Portait of Love, Hope and Tragedy Will Capture Your Heart
12 October 2005 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"Dandelion" is a hauntingly beautiful contemporary spin on "Splendor in the Grass," with pervasive forebodings of how the endless horizons of the American Western prairie can lead to claustrophobic traps.

Debut director/co-writer Mark Milgard masterfully makes the long hot summer of the lovely Idaho and Washington landscapes redolent with both the magic of young love and the dread of violence in a very "Days of Heaven" fashion. The perceptive camera fills in the silent gaps of the inarticulate characters, between parents and their teens, between parents and between teens. The sins of the parents are literally visited on the children. The action is moved along not by theatrically explosive explication but by the existential choice that each character makes, even as one gently points out that his passivity at a key point was a choice. Using cinema as a storytelling technique, the director unveils these choices visually.

Key to the success of this approach is Vincent Kartheiser. We certainly had no trouble thinking he was from another dimension in TV's "Angel," and here his emotive face and saucer eyes are Garbo-like to the camera. His "Mason" almost non-verbally goes from sullen son huddling under his hair to opaque Billy Budd-like martyr to an achingly enraptured Romeo. His sudden bright smile lights up the screen and forecasts the potential for hope and love as much as his tear-filled eyes drown our hearts. Every feeling felt or shut down is reflected in that face and eyes. Kudos to Kartheiser for not choosing to be another of the WB TV Boyz -- was he in college in between?-- and instead taking an offbeat role.

No wonder Taryn Manning's "Danny" finds the scrawny sensitive kid irresistible even when a more conventionally hunky bad boy Shawn Reaves (of TV's "Tru Calling") is a rival (though the triangle plays out in an atypical fashion). She sensitively exudes toughness and vulnerability, in a different way than she did in "Hustle & Flow," as she blossoms into what "Mason" sees in her.

The parents are also atypically not inconsequential and the excellent acting by the adults ratchets up tensions (though a post traumatic stressed syndrome Viet vet uncle and a grief-stricken mime out of Springsteen's "Reason to Believe" are a bit too much). Arliss Howard well captures a nice guy who nevertheless commits terrible emotional abuse on his wife and son. Mare Winningham starts out as the usual tippling oblivious homemaker, but brings real feeling to the last part of the film, in both an explosion of frustration and of an almost pieta scene of sympathetically stroking her inconsolable son's hair. Michelle Forbes is commendably almost unrecognizable in a very atypical role for her as a troubled single mom who destroys her daughter's self-esteem. The film well shows how the adults start to perceive their kids' feelings and how that powerful life-affirmation affects them.

Even though what was obviously a minuscule budget necessitated no changes in hair styles or aging make-up etc. to back-up the interstitial "two years later," the weather beaten buildings and exquisite settings of meadows, creek, endless road and railroad tracks and big sky of bright clouds and overpowering rain are an essential component of the story, though I'm pretty sure the title image only appears once.

While co-writer Robb Williamson's score captures the ominous mood and the indie rock song selections are illustrative, especially Sparklehorse ironically singing of a "wonderful life" and Cat Power covering Lou Reed, the visuals reminded me of a country song: "You know the world must be flat/'Cos when people leave town, they never come back." (from "Small Town Saturday Night" by Alger and DeVito, popularized by Hal Ketchum).

There have been some other films lately dealing seriously with teens and parents amidst death and first love, including the suburban "Winter Solstice" and "Imaginary Heroes," but I was the most moved by "Dandelion." This is the most poignant, mature portrait of young people in rural America since "Tully" and "All the Real Girls."


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