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After rock musician Randall Pritchard's fatal car accident, his wife and band mate Delia Byrd drags their unwilling daughter Cissy from his California home to her own, a Georgia backwater. There they move in with Delia's hard-handed first partner, now terminal Clint Windsor, how she left with their daughters Amanda and Dede, who are now summoned to the 'reassembled' family. Clint's ma completes the messy picture. Written by
Dorothy Allison's excellent novel "Cavedweller" is the source of this film of the same title. Ms. Allison's novels are about real people going through tough times in their lives. This movie was adapted by Anne Meredith from the massive novel and the essence of it comes across under the sure direction of Lisa Cholodenko. Ms. Cholodenko's other films show she has an affinity to present characters that are always at crossroads of their lives.
This film though, owes a great deal to the courageous performance of Kyra Sedgwick, who gets under the skin of Delia to show us what makes this woman ticks. We see Delia at the beginning in a desolated beach in Los Angeles. She is lost in thought, but evidently, at that moment she has made up her mind to make amends to her past. When she gets home she decides to leave everything behind and go to Georgia with Cissy, her youngest daughter.
In flashbacks we get to see Delia's life go through her mind. We learn about the abusive husband, Clint. Also, we witness her betrayal to him and how she leaves her two young daughters for a musician, Randall. Their attraction is all physical; Randall is a man who can't be true to any woman, or remain in a loving relationship.
Delia shows her courage in going back to the small town where everyone knows what she did. Her taciturn father takes her in, reluctantly. She goes to see her two daughters, who by now are teen agers; they reject her, as well as the paternal grandmother. But it's Clint, the dying man she left behind, the one that is able to reunite Delia with her daughters. It takes a lot for anyone to go back to that situation and Delia shows she is a woman that can see now where she went wrong, if only a bit late.
The acting is first rate. Ms. Sedgwick, as Delia, has the best opportunity. Young Regan Arnold gives an amazing performance as Cissy, the younger daughter who is too wise for her young age. Aidan Quinn, as Clint, has good moments, but of course, the men in this movie are secondary characters. Kevin Bacon is seen in flashbacks and has little to do. Jackie Burrows, as the grandmother shows us a woman consumed in her hatred of Delia. Vanessa Zima plays Amanda, the oldest daughter who has turned to religion to compensate by what her young mind can't comprehend.
This is not a film for everybody. Watch it because Kyra Sedgwick deserves to be seen and because it's a story that is original and unique in that is so anti Hollywood, made by a rising voice in film directing: Lisa Cholodenko.
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