A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.
In Los Angeles, a story about a dead girl, told in five chapters. A woman, miserable in her circumscribed life caring for her domineering mother, finds a body. Somehow, this discovery allows her to change. At the morgue, the sister of a girl missing for 15 years believes the body is that of her sister; this liberates her. An older woman, married to a man who pays her little attention, finds evidence in a storage unit; how will she handle it? The mother of the dead girl, who left home some years before, visits the last place her daughter lived and makes her own discoveries. Last, we flash back to the victim's final day. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Who is Karen Moncrief and where did she come from? The writer/director of this very interesting, complex "little" depressing film really took me by surprise with a tremendous script and creatively photographed look at how 5 stories intersect thanks to one dead body found in a field. I know most are already thinking "Crash" or "Babel", but this film is much more intimate and personal than either of those two big budget films.
The story begins with emotionally bankrupt Toni Collette finding the body in a field near the home she shares with her physically invalid, emotionally abusing mother, played with brimstone by Piper Laurie (who has quite the history of tough love Mom's!). The depths of Collette's loneliness are played out in one of the most painful first kisses ever filmed on her date with Giovanni Ribisi.
On the surface, what appears to be the most "normal" family, we get the lovely Rose Byre preparing the body for burial and believing (or more truthfully hoping) that the body belongs to her long missing sister. The stress and depression in the family is so painful as mother Mary Steenburgen refuses to "give up" hope and dad Bruce Davison is just helpless as the women in his life are all lost to him. While Byrne thinks the body belongs to her sister, she feel re-born and actually leaves her fetal position to date James Franco. However, soon all returns to "normal".
Mary Beth Hurt and Nick Searcy run a storage unit business next to their home and they spend their time together arguing and going emotionally numb. Searcy escapes for long drives and comes home with no explanation. A little detective work by Hurt has her proving her love and loyalty to a man who does not deserve it.
Marcia Gay Harden is the mother of the found dead girl. She goes searching for answers as to why her daughter ran away from home and how the daughter lived. The answers aren't pretty and most come from a hooker played by Kerry Washington. After much heart-break, the only sunshine in the film is discovered.
The films final chapter delivers the last piece of the puzzle as we see Brittany Murphy (the dead girl) and her struggles to make some type of life for herself. Again, painful to watch, but filled with emotional drama.
These stories are broken out here for a message. The acting of each of those named above is profound and never once over the top. Each story could be its own film, yet the brief glimpse provided into each life is just about all we can take. Ms. Moncrief has created a gem and a view into life's pain that crosses all genders, races and socio-economic boundaries. OK, I did smile once ... when I heard that Brittany Murphy's character has the last name KUTCHER!!
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