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Aurora Borealis
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Reviews & Ratings for
Aurora Borealis More at IMDbPro »

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

good stuff

8/10
Author: Nick Marino from Pittsburgh, PA
12 May 2005

i caught this at Tribeca 2005 and i was not expecting what i got - a realistic portrayal of a family in a drama film which wasn't melodramatic or preachy.

instead of distilling the personalities down to identifiable quirks, the cast and crew of aurora tackled the near impossible task of fully fleshing out the majority of the film's characters.

the result was a window into the life of a family that was fascinating to watch. this is also one of the few films I've ever seen which portrayed strong elderly characters. catch this when it hits theaters and video.

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18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Aurora Borealis - Moving, funny and well-paced

10/10
Author: mamatrauma from United States
9 May 2005

This is a great film, very moving as well as funny. I got a chance to see it at its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, 2005. Donald Sutherland and Louise Fletcher are extraordinary as the grandparents. I didn't realize how much I had missed seeing them act. Personally I think it's the best thing I've seen Josh Jackson do, and I plan to buy the soundtrack if it gets released. The director is James Burke - I've not seen any of the other movies he directed but he's really good. The pacing seemed just right, he did a great job casting the major parts and I felt he got a lot out of the secondary actors as well. I think it's miscast as a family picture by Tribeca - it's much better and edgier than the standard family fare and there's language use and sexuality not always appropriate for the under 13 crowd. Please note that my 12 year old son saw it with me and loved it. I just had the urge to cover his eyes twice but I resisted. :-)

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Oscar-worthy performance by Donald Sutherland

10/10
Author: trlrtrax from Beverly Hills
30 June 2006

I had never seen Joshua Jackson before. What a talent, and what a nice surprise. His is a masterful performance of a young man turning the corner from being mired in his thinking to one who awakens before our eyes. This cast is absolutely perfect, from Juliette Lewis' free spirit, to Louise Fletcher's supportive, but somewhat helpless grandmother, to an absolute, don't-miss-this Oscar performance by Donald Sutherland as the aging grandfather whose illness is getting the best of him. Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper have talked about their hope Sutherland gets another good role, because he's such a fine actor. This is the role, this is the year, and I hope the world discovers this little gem of a movie in the glut of big studio releases and marketing. It's rated R for language, but it's barely an R. Because of the discussion of suicide, it's really just a PG-13. Find this movie. You'll have to look for it, because it's being released in the small indie art house market. It should be in every multiplex in America.

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Sweet surprise at Tri Be Ca

10/10
Author: drjosh28 from United States
13 May 2005

While at the Tri Be Ca Film Festival last week, I luckily happened into a screening of "Aurora Borealis" and left the theatre in tears and awe by the sheer range of humanity expressed in this film. When the movie ended I was upset because I wanted to keep following the life of Duncan. His character had captivated me with his honesty, innocence and good hearted approach to the world. The main character could be any one of us, lost in this world, looking for some meaning in our lives. A good soul, but without direction since his dad died mysteriously ten years earlier and no mother in the picture, Josh Jackson plays a young man trying to find himself as he floats from job to job until finds work in his grandparents' apartment building as an assistant to the super. There he befriends the residents of this "retirement" home and finds himself deeply entwined with the life struggle of his ailing, Alzheimer's afflicted grandfather, played brilliantly by Donald Sutherland. Louise Fletcher is perfect as the physically healthy, level headed, yet frustrated spouse to Sutherland's ornery and belligerent senior citizen. Every scene with Sutherland is exquisite and sad, yet beautiful, as he forces us to face our own mortality and that of our aging parents and grandparents. Jackson's character is seen as a failure by his financially successful, but fidelity-challenged brother and by his boyhood buddies with the usual jobs of twenty-somethings. Duncan shines, however, as he reluctantly, yet dutifully and lovingly cares for his needy grandfather all the while falling for his grandfather's nurse, played sweetly by Juliet Lewis. The direction and photography are beautiful with wonderful shots of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the film moves with a perfect pace. The score is incredible throughout, but the opening Bob Dylan song was amazing and is still playing in my head as an accompaniment in my life.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful film about life and family...

9/10
Author: car1fsu from Los Angeles, CA
22 November 2005

I saw a screening of this movie last night and absolutely loved it. I went in with little to no expectations, and the film definitely delivered. The performances were subtle yet perfectly spot on, with the standouts being Joshua Jackson and Donald Sutherland. This is a true leading man role for Jackson, and takes him beyond just being "Pacey" into being a great, adult actor. Donald Sutherland is also a revelation, and their acting chemistry is fantastic.

The film isn't manipulative or preachy, it just tells a story and tells it well and manages to make you care about every single character, which is quite an accomplishment. This is James Burke's first film, and I hope he makes many more because he is a talent. He has quite a way with actors (he got a great performance out of everyone, even the smallest characters) and a great sense of tone and control. He also was able to balance the humor of the script with the pathos, and never make it feel forced.

If you like films about real characters and real emotions, you should see this movie -- you won't be disappointed.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Top 10 film for 2006!

10/10
Author: gpoobah12 from Houston, TX
17 January 2007

I saw this at the West Los Angeles screening last September. Since I was feeling a little homesick for Minneapolis, I decided to take a flyer and shell out $10 to see it. My expectations weren't that high since Mr. Dawson's Creek, Joshua Jackson, was one of the leads.

Little did I realize that Joshua Jackson would be brilliant in this movie. As good as Joshua Jackson performed, Donald Sutherland turned in one of the best performances by any actor. This movie doesn't beat you over the head with a stick, it's much more subtle than the current schlock that passes for cinema these days! Juliette Lewis plays against type, but does it so well. You actually care about the characters. This is one of the best crafted films of 2006! The only flaw I see in this movie is the lack of distribution. I've told my friends across the country that this is a "must see" movie and only those in MN have been fortunate enough to see it. There are so few well made films, something needs to be done to increase Aurora's exposure!

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Fine Ensemble Acting in a Quiet, Powerful Little Film

10/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
12 June 2007

AURORA BOREALIS is a superb film by James Burke ('In Dark Places' and 'Tis a Gift to Be Simple') from a story by Brent Boyd ('The Green Room' and 'Crazy') and if this film is a sample of how these two fine talents collaborate, we can only hope for more. The cast assembled for this movie gives evidence that the actors deeply admire their vision: it is well deserved.

The setting is winter in Minneapolis, the hometown of the Shorter family: Grandfather Ronald (Donald Sutherland), Grandmother Ruth (Louise Fletcher), and the two grandsons Duncan (Joshua Jackson) and Jacob (Steven Pasquale). The boys' father died at age 39 (10 years prior to the opening of the story) and both boys grew up on their own, feeling deserted by a father who had been a cocaine abuser at one time. Duncan had been a champion hockey player, but when his father died his goals diminished and he has been in and out of odd jobs without a solid look at his future. Jacob runs a nursing home business and when he is not working, he is bringing his girlfriends to Duncan's flat for trysts. Duncan cares for his grandfather Ronald who has multiple illnesses (Parkinson's Disease, dementia) yet who maintains a humble life with Ruth. As Ronald's condition deteriorates, Duncan takes a handyman's job in the complex where his grandparents live and during this time the two men bond more closely than ever: Ronald's fading mind sees northern lights from his apartment window and Duncan out of love and growing understanding lets him believe they are real. Ronald is aware of his mental instability and lets Duncan know that he would like to take his life with a shotgun, an idea Duncan prevents.

Ronald and Ruth have a health care provider Kate (Juliette Lewis) whom they trust and love and encourage Duncan to seek out as a partner. Kate and Duncan date and fill the wide gaps in each other's personalities, yet when the opportunity comes for Kate to move to sunny San Diego, she is unable to make Duncan budge from his safe routine existence in Minneapolis. But as Duncan's resistance is broken down (he learns from a mentor that his father did not die of cocaine abuse, Ronald dies a natural death, etc), he views Kate as the person who can alter his outlook and his life.

Every member of this cast is extraordinary: Donald Sutherland creates a man eaten by Parkinson's Disease and dementia without ever becoming a caricature, Louise Fletcher reminds us how self-effacing her acting has always been, Juliette Lewis turns in one of her most sensitive roles, and Joshua Jackson finds every nuance of the troubled but needy Duncan and engages our empathy. Each of the smaller rolls is likewise pitch perfect, no doubt due in large part to the sensitive direction of Burke. It is so refreshing to watch a film as meaningful in message and in skillful acting as this, a movie that restores our confidence in film as art. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Chilly scenes of winter

10/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
19 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The death of an influential figure can take its toll on an impressionable young person, even years after the tragedy happened. Such is the case with the aimless Duncan Shorter, a young man who has not lived up to his potential. After his father died, ten years ago, he has been restless, dropping out from school and losing jobs constantly. On the other hand, for Jacob, his other sibling, the loss of his father didn't affect his life the same way; he went on to make something of himself, but he loses his priorities as he continues to have extra marital affairs.

Duncan's grandfather Ronald, suffering from Parkinson's disease, has moved into Minneapolis with his wife Ruth. Duncan goes to visit one day and finds employment in the building as a handyman. Duncan, who loves his grandfather, bonds with the old man. Ronald doesn't appear to be getting better, as Kate, the friendly physical therapist, tells him. The young woman has a case of wanderlust as she is never stays in one place for much time.

It's easy to see how Duncan and Kate are attracted to one another as they develop an easy relationship. When Kate is told about an opportunity in San Diego, where she will be house sitting for a year, rent free, she jumps at the opportunity. Duncan is not keen in leaving Minneapolis where his family and friends are, and where he thinks he belongs.

This surprising film, directed by James Burke, was a surprise. Mr. Burke gives the movie an immediacy and reality like no other mainstream films in quite a while. Based on the screen play by Brent Boyd, the film tackles important issues without much effort. The way he presents Ronald Shorter and how his illness affects him and those around him, is one of the best ways how the Mr. Burke succeeds. Compare the way the director and the writer deal with a man afflicted with Parkinson's that makes a film like Nike Cassavetes "The Notebook" treatment of Alzheimer's disease appear phony from beginning to end. Having known first hand the devastating effects of this tragic disease, our heart went after what Ronald Shorter has been dealt by life.

Having admired the work of Joshua Jackson for quite some time, didn't prepare us for his intense performance as Duncan. This young actor is a joy to watch because he never makes a false move, he is always a welcome presence in any film. The excellent Donald Sutherland is worth the prize of admission. His Ronald Shorter is hard to watch, but this exactly what a person at this stage of the disease looks and acts like. Mr. Sutherland gets better and better each time one sees him. Juliette Lewis gives an easy going portrayal of Kate, the restless woman in search of adventure, who is not quite ready for anything until Duncan happens to come along. Luise Fletcher and Steven Pasquale give also appealing performances.

The musical score by Michael Danna and the winter landscape of Minneapolis of Alan Kivilo contribute to add another layer in this film. Ultimately, James Burke ought to be congratulated for bringing all the elements together into this wonderful slice of life of a film.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Moving story about a man trying to deal with his life and his family

8/10
Author: Jeff Beachnau (beachna9@gmail.com) from Bridgman, Michigan
12 June 2006

I saw this film at the Watefront Film Festival in Saugatuck, Michigan. Directed by James Burke, the film is about unemployable Duncan Shorter (played by Joshua Jackson, making an impressive break from his usual teen and college aimed roles) who gets a new job as a handyman so he can be near his grandparents Ronald and Ruth (Donald Sutherland and Louise Fletcher). Juliette Lewis plays Kate, the home assistant of the grandparents, helping Ronald deal with his Alzheimer's disease. Duncan and Kate meet and quickly form a relationship. Set in the winter of Minnesota, the film is a touching story about a man trying to cope with the death of his father and trying to break free from his fears of the past, present, and future.

I really enjoyed this movie, the acting was wonderful. Donald Sutherland gives a heartbreaking performance as the deteriorating grandfather, it's not over the top, it's just true and believable, proving again why he is one of the greatest actors working today. It's nice to see Louise Fletcher in this giving another one of her great role, even if she doesn't get much screen time. Juliette Lewis also does a nice job, even though it does seem like a typical Lewis performance. And I really enjoyed Joshua Jackson, this is the first adult role I've seen him play and was very impressed. I'm really looking forward to seeing Jackson's future roles, now that I know he has this kind of range.

Overall, it was a nice film, worth watching just for the performances. I wish everybody involved with the making of it the best of luck.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Recognizing those who are usually neglected

10/10
Author: warnroby2000 from United States
28 June 2007

I had never heard of this movie because up until this year, I have been on protest of pop culture. I missed out on a lot; however, this movie has been an experience for me that has not been taken lightly and will perhaps stay with me for a very long time (maybe the rest of my life). It gives such great insight on how it must feel to grow old and also portrays the challenges that come when coming of age. This movie has given me and those I viewed it with, an honest perspective of what we have to look forward to and dread as we age. It reminds me too appreciate being young and look forward to the reflections I will have when I am old. It also is a tribute to the large population that has come to a point of their life where they again do not have control and must accept what life has given them. Above all, family is always consistent for those who are lucky enough to have family even if they forgot it was there. There is strength in it and we all must recognize that, no matter how tough it has been. I want to thank the cast for choosing such a lovely movie and to open the eyes and hearts to those of use who are so far removed from the elderly/disabled/sick population that are so often neglected.

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