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Winter in hard-scrabble upstate New York. Irene is working class, a mother of two boys, and a user of cocaine. She gets into trouble and checks into a rehab program where she meets Bob, a nurse. After she goes home to her husband and returns to her job as a grocery checker, she stays in touch with Bob and the intimations of an affair begin. By now, she's changed jobs, cleaning houses with her friend Lucy. The temptations of drugs are close at hand. Can she handle sobriety? What about Bob? Written by
This movie telegraphs its tone in the first minute -- as others have pointed out, it's not exactly breezy. But it is well worth making the commitment to watch.
Farmiga's performance has integrity and guts, especially when she's interacting with the kids, but all her interactions with the secondary characters have a compelling spark of reality to them. She uses her whole body to say a line, the way real people sometimes do, especially when under stress. As in her other works, she commands every scene she's in. It's nice to see her own an entire film.
I felt the same subversive sweetness under the surface that many classic, superbly observed films seem to share, along with an astringently dry humor and personality, while remaining almost unrelentingly bleak on the surface. I found the final ten seconds particularly satisfying.
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