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"Fireflies in the Garden" is one of those rare movies where a stellar
cast and script based on a Robert Frost poem (!) could not get itself a
release. Four years later, it got a straight-to-DVD release. And for
good reason, it's really bad. It's a dysfunctional family drama where
the characters are messed up from beginning to middle to end. There is
no relief, comedy or otherwise, from the dysfunction.
It starts with the guise that perhaps it's not dysfunctional from the very beginning, but no, it is. I made the mistake of reading the back of the DVD case, where I was informed that the Taylors are the very picture of a happy and successful American family. I wonder what constitutes a successful family: Is it the father emotionally and physically abusing his son? Or the husband emotionally and physically abusing his wife? Or the inappropriate relationship between aunt and nephew? Because all of that was conveyed to us in the first two scenes. Not from the very first minute did I confuse this family as a happy and successful one.
The film also implies that the family wants to get out from their past and start afresh. Whether they want to or not, that's not going to happen because they don't even know what a happy and successful family looks like let alone how to be one.
The now grown up son, Michael (Ryan Reynolds) has returned home along with his sister and aunt and father (Willem Dafoe). Michael is a writer because it's the classic profession to be able to rid yourself of past demons. I was expecting a sort of mystery to develop as the film certainly did imply that each character was hiding something. Of course they were hiding things repressed emotions. Which doesn't build to a mystery but melodrama.
The title refers to the Frost poem but also one of their childhood activities. Along with everyone I know, on warm summer evenings when the fireflies would be out in their brilliant glory, we would catch them in jars, keep them in our bedrooms, trying to savour the magic of the night. But not the Taylor kids. On warm summer evenings when the glowing fireflies were out, they would go and kill them. Any sympathy was instantly lost, never to be regained.
"If you don't know how to take care of something you don't deserve to have it." When Michael (Reynolds) comes home for his mother Lisa's (Roberts) graduation the family is rocked by a tragedy. The family is now forced to live together in close confines and old and new problems begin to come to the surface. This is a very difficult movie to review. The acting is amazing. Every single person does a fantastic job throughout. The story is a little overused but still is a great idea. The glaring problem is that there is absolutely no personal connection to the characters and that really hurts the movie. I don't think that that is the actor's fault but when these awful things happen it doesn't affect you the way it's meant to. Overall, a good movie that doesn't create the effect that it was supposed to. I give it a C+.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It looks good and has a stellar cast. Julia Roberts shines in a small but pivotal role and Haydn also puts in a good performance with the scant material she has to work with. Emily Watson and Willem Dafoe almost steal the show, chewing up the scenery in every scene they're in. The talented Carrie-ann Moss is however criminally underused however while the youngsters are very good in their roles. The real revelation here though is Ryan Reynolds who puts in a subtle, nuanced performance which is a perfect foil to Willem Dafoe's more melodramatic style. Who knew he could act? The plot centres round three generations of a family coming to terms with a tragedy and dealing with issues of infedility, psychological abuse and, even though it' s not touched on in the movie, incest. These issues aren' t dealt with in any depth and ultimately the film fails because of this.
*** This review may contain 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have just finished watching this movie and i loved it from beginning
to end. Then i thought i would come on here to see what it was rated
and what others thought of this movie. During the movie i even said to
myself i rated this an 8 out of 10. So you can imagine my surprise when
i see that it has an average rating of 6.6. I read through the majority
of the reviews and to be honest and i suspect to be expected i disagree
with a lot of the reasons provided to mark it down.
Firstly the acting is first class. I was unfamiliar with Ryan Reynolds as an actor and i was gripped by his performance. It did take a little questioning throughout to keep up with the family structure and who was related to who - as the scenes changed from the present to the past for example. But once you sorted this out - the change of tense worked out well i thought.
I also really thought Willem Defoe played a great tormented character. The abuse dished out to his son is a manifestation of his own failings as well as in part the abuse dished out to him as he was growing up.
A lot of people spoke about "missing bits" or missing story lines. Which is the part i don't get. It is never straight forward why families are dysfunctional in the first place. I think these days viewers want absolutely everything spelled out for them or served on a silver platter before they are satisfied. I actually enjoyed the fact that the movie in some way leaves it to the viewers to form your own opinions about what may or may not have transpired during the years between the relatives. These opinions might come from your own experiences in your own dysfunctional family - or indeed other experiences from other real life situations. The underlying temptations and unhappiness of some of the characters. The character development was also well thought out.
Sure the movie could of been longer and no doubt it would of been an even better movie if it was. But I really enjoyed this movie and please don't be discouraged from some of the negative reviews on here.
If you are a type of viewer that needs to have absolutely everything explained to you - then yes you probably will be left wanting. However if you are a type of viewer that doesn't mind a movie with leaving some questions unanswered to give you the opportunity to write your own conclusions then i think you will really enjoy it.
Jeez Willem Dafoe is such a bastard in this, I really (really) hated
him here. Decent movie with a great cast, giving great performances in
a dysfunctional family drama.
For the most part the plot follows 'Michael' (Ryan Reynolds) flip-flopping back and forth between him at the age of 12 and at 30 following the unexpected death of a family member and just before he publishes a memoir that will reveal painful family secrets.
Reynolds does a good job as Michael, he's pretty messed up after being raised (tortured) by an abusive, manipulative father. I enjoyed the entire cast as they muddle through tragedy but was left frustrated by how many of the "secrets" were never revealed -I had questions left unanswered. And in no way had Dafoe's character redeemed himself in the end, which I think we were meant to assume. 9/8/14
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