Fireflies in the Garden (2008) Poster

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Here on earth come emulating flies, That achieve at times a very star-like start. (Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.)
The-Kissable-Writer7 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
How many percent of the earth is populated by writers? And does the same ratio count for the figments of imagination that inhabit our little screen? How many writers use their work to conquer their demons, usually to get rid of the grenade fragments left over from growing up in a dysfunctional family? Michael Waechter just finished his latest novel; serious literature. A merciless word storm, written in pure gall, a not to be misunderstood way of slaying his demon namely his terror-prone father. Previously only occupying himself with sugar sweet love tales, this indicates a radical change in Michael's authorial style as well as in his way of dealing with his troubled existence.

This is where the characters' journeys start, for our protagonist it's a search for a way of forgiving his father, his path is ridden with the verbalizing of a ton of words unsaid too long and energetic arguments, as the audience gets sucked in further and further the - in the beginning only skin-deep - dramatic tension mounts. The picture uses it's runtime skilfully, the development of the 'original' characters occupies nearly all scenes, once in a while the director permits us a small pause to catch our breath and reflect upon what just went on. The new generation (children Christopher and Leslie) clearly are being presented to us as a reincarnation of Michael and his young ante Jane, of who it's fair to say they grew up close enough to almost be brother and sister - the unmistakable physical resemblance alone says enough. The only significant difference is the nature of fathers, they have the luck of having a loving, gentler father who unfortunately is away a lot on business, where as Michael's father is the hard, domineering type, the kind of father who maybe loves his family a little too much to be healthy for him, or his family for that matter.

Herein eventually lies the human quality of the character and the redemption. Hereby we can wholeheartedly accept - even though it appeared not to be true for a very long time - Michael forgiving his father, which culminates in a catharsis-classic: the burning of his newborn baby book in the fireplace, and we can even rejoice in Michael regaining personal freedom.

Now, for those who are not convinced the father deserves being forgiven, that's not really the core of it all. The point is this: even deeply rooted hate, however justified, has to be overcome in order to be happy. Hate is so powerful it can and will easily consume the one who holds the grudge and it often destroy families. In my opinion the whole film is centered around Christopher, in order to save the child's still pure soul, Michael is forced to take that last, hard step towards full maturity.

A simple movie? Maybe. Simplistic? Absolutely not. Above everything else, this movie is oh so full of truth and genuine emotion.
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8/10
A very dark drama that leaves you sad but for the right reasons
Robert W.26 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Fireflies in The Garden was panned by basically everyone. The dysfunctional family story took three years to be released on DVD which is astounding considering the enormous strength of this cast. Many reviewers all say the same thing that movies like this are a dime a dozen and that might be true. That doesn't this cast and this film any less captivating. Perhaps part of the issue that many see in this movie is that it is in no way packaged in a neat little box with sunshine and rainbows. This is a very dark drama about a very messed up family and there isn't a happily ever after for them. If you can handle a dark drama then you will be rewarded with some terrific performances. Ryan Reynolds shines in his role as the grown up son who has many emotional problems because of a verbally abusive father. That father is played with excellent force by Willem Dafoe. Obviously playing a villain type character is not new for Dafoe but his character is so pathetic, with so much depth, you will just despise him and beg for his redemption much like his family does. Emily Watson is sort of ho-hum compared to the rest of the cast. Once you've accepted that Hayden Panettiere somehow grew up to look like Emily Watson...she also loses all her passion for the role. Panettiere is much better as the younger Jane in the movie. Julia Roberts is good in her role though she isn't used all that much and sort of takes a more ceremonious role in the movie. People are always clamouring for Hollywood to do something unique and I give a lot of credit to first time writer and director Dennis Lee for not making everything neat and tidy. Sometimes you can be in the mood for a dark drama and some solid performances makes this one captivating. Ignore the harsh reviews and give it a chance! 8/10
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7/10
Exploring the Sludge of a Dysfunctional Midwestern Family
gradyharp26 February 2012
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN is a perplexing movie. The story seems as though someone threw the script up in the air with the fireflies in the garden (a quite beautiful moment in the film that suggest the night gardens of John Singer Sergent's 'Carnation Lily, Lily Rose'), shot it full of holes and then reassembled it the next groggy morning. Pieces are simply missing: we are informed that the original version is 122 minutes while this version is only 89 minutes and it is likely that in the missing 33 minutes many of the unresolved and very confusing elements of time and place and character development and perplexing moments existed. Writer/Director Dennis Lee obviously had a fine story to share and a brilliant cast to offer it, but so much of it is missing that we are left frustrated.

Successful Romance novelist Michael Taylor (Ryan Reynolds) has completed his latest novel, a work of serious memoir literature in which he has recounted his childhood in an attempt to free himself from the influence of his demonic father, English professor Charles Taylor (William Dafoe) who seriously abused Michael as a child and for whom he holds little emotion but disdain. Michael has returned home for the college graduation of his sister Ryne (Shannon Lucio) as well as his mother's - Lisa (Julia Roberts) - deferred graduation. But the celebration is altered by an accident: Charles swerved to not hit his nephew Christopher (Chase Ellison), hit a pole resulting in a crash that killed Lisa and injured Charles and leaves Christopher with a dark cloud of guilt that he caused the trauma.

We gradually meet the family: Lisa's sister Jane (Emily Watson) is the mother of Christopher and his little sister and has always been the closest friend of Michael when they were children (as children, Michael is portrayed by Cayden Boyd and Jane by Hayden Panettiere ), At Lisa's funeral Michael's 'ex-wife', AA reformed Kelly (Carrie-Anne Moss) shows up to add to Michael's angst. From here the film jumps back and forth between the childhood of Michael and Jane and the suffering and abuse Michael endured at the hands of his grotesquely diabolical father and the secrets of that failed family life are gradually exposed and the traumatic present. In cleaning out Lisa's things Michael discovers some information that alters his view of his past, and those discoveries lead to a change in the way Michael views his father and Jane's children and most significantly the demons that have burdened him through his life.

In addition to the fine work by Reynolds, Watson, Dafoe, Roberts, and all the other cast members, there is an important cameo for Ioan Gruffudd that opens the murk of the story well. Though this journey through the progress of a dysfunctional family has been done many times before and even frequently using the protagonist as a novelist about to open the secrets of the family's lives to the world, this story take some significant alternative routes that make it more tender. The uses of flashbacks could have been better edited so that the audience is aware of when the character changes occur, and there are many unanswered questions about how each of these characters came to inhabit the human roles they present here. But given the fact that the audience must stay completely alert during this film in order to follow this at times meandering story, this is a worthy film. One wonders why the missing 33 minutes were not included in the American release (the film was made in 2007 and it seems as though it never played the theaters, going instead directly to DVD). With a cast of this caliber this should have been a popular film. But where did those missing pages take us?

Grady Harp
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8/10
It Could Have Been Great
msmspacek21 August 2008
I agree with Raj Doctor, although I would rate the film higher.

The film was released in Russia with little publicity and became lost in the summer blockbusters. Without revealing information, the acting is excellent. The story is very indeed very realistic. If you find realism boring, then this is not a film for you.

The final third of the film, however, is missing. I have read that at the Berlin Film Festival, where the film premiered, it was announced to be 2 hours long, but the version in Russia is missing 20 minutes. Because the ending felt rushed while the rest of it was very well controlled, I cannot help but believe that this time was taken out of the final act. It's a shame really, because it could have been a great film. As it is, it is still a very good film that I recommend for the patient viewer.
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6/10
Fireflies in the garden
Raj Doctor20 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The movie was released with little publicity and it seems to be running with a low profile in Amsterdam.

The story is about a writer Michael (Ryan Reynolds) who is about to finish his first autobiographical novel – and he has come to attend the funeral of his mother Lisa's (Julia Roberts) death, who has a tormenting marriage with her husband Charles (Willem Dafoe) – who is also abusive to his son Michael. The story goes back and forth with flashbacks and evolving relationship between Michael and Charles. There is a sub-plot of Michael and Lisa's sister Jane's (Emily Watson) childhood affair and Michael's relationship with Jane's son – who feels isolated. In the end – there is a get feel understanding between father and son. The movie ends there.

The movie is good, but could have had been great. Ryan Reynolds looks fantastic, but Willem Dafoe steals the show with the negative role of father. Julia Roberts fits well in her small cameo as mother. While Emily Watson is good.

The Director Dennis Lee has strong script and story line, but does not bring about the required finishing touch to the movie. The cinematography is excellent. The editing between current and flashback is very well handled. The movie was inspired from a poem (with the same name) written by Robert Frost and co-written by the Director Dennis Lee.

Those people who have suffered child abuse by their disciplinary fathers would surely identify with the characters and may have tender moments – that may make them cry.

The movie does not become too heavy on the audience even though there are a few disturbing scenes.

(Stars 6.5 out of 10)
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7/10
a pleasant surprise
lgilbertom5 February 2009
I watched this movie on DVD and I confess that I rented reluctantly this movie. However, I had a pleasant surprise, the story is about a boy who in his adult version is played by Ryan Reynolds with serious relationship problems with his father (William Dafoe). I am really surprise with Ryan Reynolds performance, also the young Michael with play Cayden Boyd. The whole story in one way or another turn around the problem of relationship between both. The movie uses well the flashback resource to show the problems of this family and especially the problems between Michael and his father. Naturally, there are good interpretations of the rest of the cast especially for Emily Watson(Michael's Aunt). A movie that really is worth watching.
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9/10
This movie is a sleeper, what a shame it has not been released in the US
sandieabreo8 June 2010
I was pleasantly surprised with the concept of the story line, not to mention the quality of the photography and the especially the acting. Ryan Reynolds displayed his ability to exact emotions not usually seen from this fine young actor. He continues to grow with each movie he makes. Julia Roberts also stretched her limits as did William DeFoe. Even though William DeFoe usually plays dramatic roles, his ability to be the villain (abusive to his son) I thought did need to be refined a little more. I enjoyed the movie allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions with regards to the secrets that these characters each held; along with the realistic display of a fractured family and how they start to repair the past wrongs. This movie showed great promise to be a headliner and what a shame we'll not all have the opportunity to see it.
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8/10
Great Movie and Ryan Rocks!
melvam128 March 2008
I was lucky enough to see an early screening of "Fireflies in the Garden" and it was great. While there were several stand out performances--Julia Roberts, Cayden Boyd, Hayden Panettiere...I have to say Ryan Reynolds is the one that really got me. First of all this is not one of his usual roles. Secondly, while his incredible comedic timing added lightness at appropriate moments and depth to his character's struggles, it was the open access to his heart that really moved me. Third of all...I don't really have a point but, now I'm a FAN! Um, I ended up crying quite a bit watching this movie. It's great! I hope it's released soon.
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Dysfunctional Fireflies and the Case of the Exploding Fish
MacAindrais12 October 2008
Fireflies in the Garden (2008) **1/2

The problem with movies about dysfunctional families is the same one that spy movies have: they're a dime a dozen, and rarely offer anything new. Wes Anderson has made dysfunction his specialty. Noah Baumbach's Squid and the Whale was also a very good film about dysfunctional families, as is Jonathan Demme's new film Rachael Getting Married. Dennis Lee's feature length debut, Fireflies in the Garden is a technically well made film. It looks good, it sounds good. Lee is a sound director. But good direction can't always save a flat script. That's the problem with the movie. It offers nothing new into an already crowded genre.

I suspect that the film's script must have looked quite good. After all, it netted a slew of stars - Ryan Reynolds, Emily Watson, Willem Defoe, Hayden Panettiere, Iaon Gruffud, and Julia Roberts. Reynolds stars as as Michael Waechter, the son of a self absorbed intellectual jerk, Charles (Dafoe). His mother is Lisa (Roberts). The film goes back and forth in time, between Michael's childhood and present day. While on the way to Rhyne, the daughter's graduation party, Charles and Lisa get into a car accident while trying to avoid Christopher, Lisa's nephew. Lisa is killed.

This sets up situations and complications to bring everyone together so they can argue and bicker, and of course, eventually reconcile. As the family gathers at the old family home, where Jane (Watson in the present, Panattiere in the past) now lives, old feelings are drudged over, and while going through their mother's things, Michael discovers a secret about his mother.

Robert's and Watson play caring mothers. Lisa is passive, maybe too passive. Why she allows Charles to get away with some of the cruel things he does to the young Michael are confounding.

Meanwhile, the film also glosses over the relationship between Jane and Michael, who are roughly the same age. That relationship is almost incestuous, although Lee never dares to fully delve into it. Everyone does solid work with their roles. Again a part of the technical solidity of the film. It's just that the story is too familiar, too flat. In the end, Dafoe has some moments of depth, and Reynolds gives a strong and layered performance. Otherwise, the script doesn't take enough time to flesh out its characters.

Sure Michael has every reason to hate his father. He's a jerk, unabashedly so. The story needs to be maybe flushed out more, or maybe way less. There are stories enough for about three movies here. The plot line regarding young Christopher, who feels tremendous guilt over Lisa's death is enough for a film of this length. But there are so many other stories going on that it gets only limited time.

There are some other small nitpicks that can be made. First, none of the kids look like their adult counterparts. That would be fine in a better movie, but here it's something you pick out. Second, although the film is set somewhere outside Chicago, it feels like somewhere in the south. Probably because it was shot in and around Texas.

Based on a script that floated around Hollywood for sometime before getting financed, Fireflies in the Garden has floated around looking for a release since its debut back at the Berlin Film Festival. It's reported that the film will get a release come November. I suspect it will be limited, and suspect that it won't stick around theaters for long. Robert's might attract a few patrons to the multiplexes, but I wouldn't count on this one to make a big splash with anyone. I'm sure Lee has better in him.
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6/10
Meh, mediocre
pc957 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe not as bad as some movies, but definitely with a Wonder Years type feel to it, Dennis Lee's "Fireflies in the Garden" is by-and-large clichéd melodrama. It has some redeeming scenes many of which are with Ryan Reynolds and the young child actors on-hand, but the story seems a retread - as though we've seen it before. We've seen variations done better in other movies. The music is sometimes OK folksy but sometimes cruddy folksy and annoyingly maudlin. The older and younger "Aunt" in the movie look way too far apart in appearance to be remotely believable. The sources of tension between the father and son are never patched up even as the credits roll down. OK for a single viewing, but doesn't make it above melodrama either.
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7/10
Small things
kosmasp15 July 2008
I watched this movie at the Berlin Film Festival and I have to admit that I was surprised by Ryan Reynolds. He can play the dramatic role(s) as you can see him do here ...

His performance anchors the movie and although we have other great actors here too, he is the one that leads us into and through the story. You won't be surprised to hear/read that the story is semi-auto-biographical. It is that deep and it goes into his characters. Having said that, William Dafoe is somewhat of a show-stealer too. Although I do think he could have been a bit better sketched (yes OK he's defined by a real human, but it feels more like a restriction to me). All in all, a drama with occasional light moments in an overall dark story.
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Fireflies in the Night
Chrysanthepop14 August 2009
Dennis Lee adapts Frost's poem with the same title. With such a big names associated with it, I wonder why 'Fireflies in the Garden' never got a US theatrical release. It is a well executed film. Danny Moder's cinematography is breathtaking and Javier Navarrete's score is superb. The story has an interesting premise but it needed fleshing out. It looks patchy at times. The casting is also a little awkward. Emily Watson and Hayden Panettiere are too different to play the same character convincingly and this was difficult for me to overlook. That said, Panettiere was quite decent and Watson is first rate but she deserved more screen time (and her character, the older Jane, needed more fleshing out). Ditto for Julia Roberts who, despite of a small role, has a strong presence throughout the entire film. I find her character's actions questionable. For example why does she choose to leave her husband when he cheats on her while all those years she stays with him when he's abusing their son? Ryan Reynolds shows growth as an actor. He displayed maturity in 'Definitely, Maybe' and seems to be going the right way as an actor. Willem Dafoe too does a terrific job from being the hateful father to being the softer old man but I would have liked to see more of the transformation in Charles because on the one hand he is shown to be a loving father (as shown in the home video) but on the other hand he doesn't seem to have changed much (the scene in the car when they're on their way to visit Jane and his temper at the dinner table). The director could have shown more of Lisa and Charles during their later years. I also liked Cayden Boyd's performance. Ioan Gruffudd and Carrie-Anne Moss do not have more than a couple of scenes. 'Fireflies in the Garden' seems like a well intentioned movie but it appears too rushed and patchy to fully involve the viewer. It needed more than 95 minutes of screen time. The visuals, soundtrack and performances make it a decent watch.
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2/10
Disturbing and confusing
hduck120 March 2013
I agree with others who did not like the film. It was like watching a jigsaw puzzle being put together without a picture of the whole scene. It's not that the acting was bad in my opinion, but there was no reason to make the story so difficult to follow. It wasn't until I had finished watching the show that I looked at commentaries, and at IMDb to find out who was who, and who was related to whom, and by what connection.

OK, we all have a past and many of us have complaints about our parents, but most of us do not air them, because we are far from perfect ourselves. We also learn as we grow older (hopefully), and our misbehavior toward our children was not with the intention of hurting them -- mostly it was because of personal anxieties about life, and how to protect our children from many destructive mistakes.

By contrast to this movie about family dysfunction, and the processes of remembering the past, another screenplay which uses some of the same techniques, and which is possibly my favorite teleplay of all time is the original version of Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective. Never have I seen a screenplay so perfectly written and directed and cast and acted as this one. It is a marvel, and it contains a lot of ironic humor too.

The Robert Frost poem of the same name is a very good analogy. There are some few who are true stars, and there ore others who would like to be stars but are like the fireflies. Their little lights may appear momentarily to light the night sky, but they do not last long.
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7/10
Incredible cast, but you knew that...
TEEDLE5 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
First and foremost, the actors in this film all deliver incredible performances, exactly what you would expect form such names as Julia Roberts, Willem Dafoe, and Emily Watson. I would say that I was surprised by Ryan Reynolds excellent performance but "Definitely, Maybe" had already convinced me that Reynolds can shine in a mature, non-comedic role. The cinematography also deserves to be noted and adds to the fact that this movie should have been great.

While the character development was somewhere between adequate and amazing depending on the character, this movie absolute lacks a complete storyline. While the father-son relationship is somewhat over unnecessarily overdeveloped, leaving essential all other relationships remaining a mystery. This is extremely true for the odd relationship between Michael and Jane. It was the unbalanced relationship development and less than substantial storyline that left this movie unfinished and full of holes. To me, it felt like waiting for something to happen only to realize during the credits that nothing has, that somehow everything had magically worked itself out during a long blink.

I have to give this film a relatively high rating due to the acting alone and the fact that Ryan Reynolds deserves it. I hope to see him soon in any role he chooses, whether it be comedic or dramatic.
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3/10
What a mess of a film.
IAN-Cinemaniac25 August 2008
I'm an American living in Europe and usually when I see a film with such a fine cast released here before it is in the States an alarm goes off in my head. Normally that means the film is junk and they want to make some money back before word gets around. I read the 2 other IMDb reviews and thought maybe it's not too bad. I then read the Hollywood Reporter, and Variety's reviews, which were not as kind. But I decided to take a drive over to Maastricht, Holland to form my own opinion of FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN. The first 15 minutes I thought, okay maybe this cast can rise above the seemingly Lifetime special material. But in the end it was clear they couldn't. I've seen much finer Lifetime movies (because of my wife). I can't understand WHY the cast agreed to making this movie. The characters were inconsistent and the script was sloppy. It seemed as though a reel had gone missing, some footage had been erased or maybe they had forgotten to film 30 pages of the script. Characters make huge changes for no apparent reason. Plot points are mentioned but never followed through. I could go on forever but I'm not sure about what. There is no substance to FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN. It's a pure waste of your time and it's talent. Clearly they thought they were making a solid family drama like ORDINARY PEOPLE or IN THE BEDROOM but they certainly did not succeed on any level. So unfortunately my theory about the US dumping its cinematic junk on the rest of the world for a quick buck has proved true again.
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8/10
Beautiful, tragic and inspiring
lopcar199313 May 2009
Fireflies in the garden is a very tragic, beautiful and at sometimes awe inspiring. Fireflies in the garden is based on a poem by the legendary Robert Frost and is what inspired this film. This magnificent piece of movie making stars Ryan Reynolds as Michael Taylor a very accomplished and well liked novelist who while going home for a family reunion is meet with an unexpected and heartbreaking tragedy. This film is a study of the human emotion and how one death can lead you to find your way back to the people who love and care for you.

Fireflies in the garden is a beautiful film that will have your heart wrenching and at sometimes soaring above new heights. I lost my mom last year to cancer, so this movie was very hard for me to watch, but I made it trough to the end but not without shedding a river full of tears. In our lives we all lose someone we love and we all regret that we didn't do anything different or we didn't bother to be there for them when we were needed the most, and this film tells a story that can make you come to terms with that feeling. It can make you feel like not all is lost and that the grass is greener on the other side.

Ryan Reynolds, Julia Roberts, William Defoe and Carrie-Anne Moss deliver earth shattering performances in a movie that should be recognized as one of the best of 2008, this film should be released commercially to people so that they can experience a movie that will truly touch your heart in many way's. Fireflies in the garden is now and will always be one of my favorite films of all time, and I hope it will be one of yours too.
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5/10
Two versions of this film. 2008 is the best!
subwayforlife8012 February 2011
OK there two versions of this movie. The 2008 version I give 3 1/2 stars. Great score and good ending. The 2011 American release with entirely different score (score sucks), is mediocre at best. The score made the 2008 version good. I don't know why the producers ruined the original version, probably just to get an American release. I don't why Hollywood takes a potentially good idea and turns it into crap. This movie was Oscar worthy until they changed the entire me with it's crap 2011 ending. Watch the 2008 version online or import DVD...2008 9 stars. 2011= 5 1/2 stars. Crap bag producers butchered a very good movie.
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4/10
Basically I don't get it...
slsmoot1239 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not a literary genius or anything but this movie left me totally confused. Why did it seem like everyone was beating up on Michael, the one who had been abused? Even the aunt Jane whom I thought would have been the most understanding had zero empathy for Michael and defended the father to the death. She said that the book would kill the father (William Dafoe). Well, so effing what if it does? At least the writer could have let the audience know why she cared so much, after all her relation is to Lisa not the father so it makes absolutely no sense to me. She said to Michael "everything you touch turns to sh**", where did that come from? In my eyes it was totally unwarranted and if it had been me she would have gotten punched in the teeth for saying it. Then she never apologized even after Michael found her son. So it just seems like continued abuse on the abused. Then to throw the Manuscript in the fire is supposed to be a sign of forgiveness? So Michael's supposed to feel guilty for his father's sins? What!? Come on....It would have been a better movie if Jane didn't grow up to be such a turncoat b**ch.
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1/10
Fly in the Ointment
tigerfish5023 January 2016
'Fireflies in the Garden' reveals how much film producers despise their writers, directors, actors and audience. A movie which ran for 122 minutes in its original cut, has been chopped down to 89 minutes for its DVD release. The story is a fairly complicated family drama about past abuse, secrets and betrayals, so even the most attentive viewer will be watching with furrowed brows as the missing action frequently makes the characters' behavior incomprehensible.

The film has some decent performances from an outstanding cast, but their talents are wasted since the fragmented plot produces only confusion and frustration. Few screenplays can survive losing 25% of their material, and it's pointless to write a real review when the narrative arc of this abbreviated version makes so little sense. There are numerous instance where issues are raised, but never followed up, leading to a conclusion which is an anti-climactic farce due to all the excisions and omissions.
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6/10
I wished there were more flashback story then the present time
Saad Khan28 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN – CATCH IT (B ) I've been waiting for this movie since I've seen its few clips released on You-tube long time back… but the movie didn't picked up any studio and never got a major release… now finally I saw it & it came out quite good… Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Hayden Penetterie, William Dafeo, Carrie Ann-Moss, Emily Mortime, Loan Gruffud, Shannon Lucio and Young Kid Cayden Boyd Acted really well. If they would have put more flashback sequences specially between Julia & Loan Affair and Hayden & young Cayden fling… that would have been really provocative and would have taken the movie to next level… but sadly the director left the interesting issues untouched. Still worth a shot if you like emotional drama about dysfunctional families.
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1/10
Fireflies in the Garden
cbreiss1 October 2008
This movie was a cheat. Very poor, unrealistic story, characters undeveloped and unmotivated. Felt nothing for any of the characters. None of then had any strength or character or integrity. Julia Roberts, as actor and character, totally disappoints. The story line leaves many questions to be resolved. Why was Jane staying with the family? How long was Michael separated from his wife? Why did anyone accept the father's horrific behavior and never call him on it? Not reasonable that no one would confront him and that the movie gives you the impression of happily ever after. In short, the movie was totally unsatisfying on all levels and actually made me mad.
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10/10
A Refreshing Film
Jowan Carbin17 October 2011
In recent years, Hollywood has been consumed with big budget comic book action spectacles that present a healthy dose of the implausible, and if you're lucky, at least a small amount of the nuances found in the human experience. The problem is, that those nuances are mostly seen through the eyes of CGI artists. In the family drama FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN, the nuances are seen through the eyes of writer/director Dennis Lee, a courageous new artist who treats his audience as if they have the two pivotal ingredients needed to enjoy his film, patience, and a brain. FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN is not your mother's family drama, dripping with sentimentality and moments of levity so overblown they border on caricature. FIREFLIES is an illumination of a family dynamic so subtly perverse at times, that you soon realize that the Taylor Family is not just your neighbors but in one-way or another a representation of some aspect of yourself. This makes for unsettling and emotionally rewarding cinema. And by the end of writer/director Dennis Lee's beautifully realized film, FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN, we've left the Taylor Clan in a place that may not be enough of an astronomical shift for the comic book movie crowd, or even some critics, but a place of authenticity and simplicity that speaks volumes.
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4/10
Unlikeable characters and depictions of cruelty...
mao-5412 February 2012
First the cruelty. Yeah, I'm a tree hugger and that's why I think imagery of firecrackers put inside living fish and the senseless batting of fireflies with tennis rackets is a terrible message for children and impressionable young adults. As for the characters -I just didn't like them. Ryan Reynolds was pretty flat, smoked cigarettes, and didn't seem like the same kid that grew up. And then I'm just tired of seeing women -like the one Julia Roberts portrayed- getting mentally abused and just taking it. Don't bother with this one. I love Carrie-Anne Moss but there was little development of her character -in fact I couldn't figure out her relationship to everyone and I'm not about to sit through it again. And then, probably worst of all, I'm really tired of watching drivers turn their heads for several seconds to talk to the person next to them. Let's work on fresh material, Hollywood.
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8/10
A beautiful piece of art
shayan sarkar31 December 2010
Fireflies in the garden directed by Denis Lee is a good film with a great background music, excellent cinematography and extra-ordinary performances. the film has been directed in a beautiful manner.

Ryan Reynolds being the lead actor in the film has really done a great job. Willem Dafoe also gave good performance. But the actress whose performance really stole the show was none other than JULIA ROBERTS. In her short role she showed her acting skills and gave a terrific performance.Emily Watson was OK and the rest of the cast did their bit.

Overall I would say that Fireflies in the garden deserves a watch just because of its cinematography, direction, Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds.
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Just released in U.S., and frankly a GREAT movie!
soba777716 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I can't believe it took so long for this movie to have a U.S. release. I must say, I thought it was a great movie, with stellar acting and directing. The movie screams out to people who know, observe or participate in their own family dysfunction. If you have some nutty relatives who have long-term relationship issues, you will GET this movie (and it will touch you). There are some beautiful scenes also. Ryan Gosling and a number of the other actors gave top-notch performances. Gosling's ability to convey through inaction was remarkable, since his character carries the weight of the story and serves as the catalyst for change (or lack of it). Plus, the movie has some really funny moments.
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