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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Hours" comes a story that chronicles a dozen years in the lives of two best friends who couldn't be more different. From suburban Cleveland in the 60s, to New York City in the 80s, where they meet an older woman, the film charts a journey of trials, triumphs, loves and losses. Now the question is: can they navigate the unusual triangle they've created and hold their friendship together? Written by
Compelling performances make this a film worth seeing
While the script may not be a perfect adaptation of the novel (note that it was the author's first, and as such, may have been difficult to make into a cohesive whole. Also, the importance of good editing should not be overlooked).
In any case, the first part of the movie spends a bit too much time on exposition, or perhaps simply doesn't use the time well enough. We're fairly clubbed over the head with Bobby's near-worshipful identification with his older brother. The scenes with Sissy Spacek were far superior to the others, and brought out the best in the young actors playing the boys.
The film's most pleasing aspect was the wonderfully crafted relationships among the four adult characters, played by Farrell, Roberts, Wright Penn and Spacek. They were convincing, and drew the audience into the entire complex of the the interaction between the characters, even among those I've spoken to who identified more strongly with one of them. These scenes are crafted very well, and display the director's skill from live theatre. This part of the movie, I wanted to see more of. Yes, folks, Colin Farrell can indeed act; you'll find many different shadings in his performance, and a vulnerability you probably haven't seen before. Dallas Roberts, who was nominated for an Outer Drama Critics' Circle award for Best Actor for his outstanding performance in "Nocturne" in New York, and who recently finished a run of a two man play with none other than the renowned Sam Shepherd, does an extremely fine job. He maintains honesty and intensity, and isn't drawn into the easy trap of trying to play the whole weight of the drama at once. He keeps himself firmly in each moment. Robin Wright Penn turns in a delightful performance in a character whose range of outlook on life is wide and complex. Sissy Spacek is simply superb; aside from the tendency to like her in whatever she does, her character took only moments to become highly engaging. The scenic design and location choices were notably excellent.
This movie, which unfortunately has yet to receive wide distribution, is definitely worth seeing. Not only does it feature fine performances and direction in the latter part of the story, but it raises questions about what "family" really IS, and who gets to decide what that definition should be? That makes it a VERY timely film. Unless you've read the book, you probably can't tell what's going to happen at each stage, and you may find yourself with more questions than answers by the time the end credits roll. A piece of art that ASKS questions and doesn't claim to provide all the answers is to be valued and appreciated. It's also unusual for Hollywood to produce, given their corporately-driven tendency to release "neat and packaged" films. It allows far more room for the audience to make up their OWN minds, and thus displays more respect for them. In my opinion, it was this aspect of the script that enabled the producers to draw in three "name" stars, and give us a welcome introduction to the highly talented Dallas Roberts, whose performance takes no back seat to any of the others.
This film contains varied & perhaps unconventional relationships. For that reason, it has had a lot of screenings at Gay/Lesbian film festivals. Don't let that fool you into overlooking this film. Its appeal is in the humanity of the characters, not their sexual preferences.
I highly recommend the film. Be patient with the first portions; the older the characters get, the better the film gets.
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