There are dysfunctional families... and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom, distant brother, ... See full summary »
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Jeremy Lindsay Taylor
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Rudy De Luca
Ed Begley Jr.
There are dysfunctional families... and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom, distant brother, and stoic dad. But when Billy starts to act out, everything changes for him and his family. Written by
Sydney director Andrew Lancaster did well to lure Geena Davis to our shores to star in Accidents Happen. I suspect he didn't have much hassle with a screenplay as biting and sharp as Brian Carbee's to use as bait. During a Q&A after the Australian premiere Davis herself admitted that she has always been drawn to interesting characters that challenge her; Gloria Conway definitely fits that mould. Carbee arms Gloria with acerbically humorous dialogue throughout her quick wit a shield for the hurt that lies beneath in addition to providing an idiosyncratic story about how different people cope with tragedy.
It's hard to imagine someone else filling the lead role, Davis finds such a perfect blend of steeliness and vulnerability that she embodies Gloria completely. The non-spoken instances are given extra gravitas by the Oscar winning actress whilst Carbee's words are delivered pitch perfectly. At the other end of the age scale, the young Gilbertson (also seen in the recent Beneath Hill 60) is one to watch out for in the future. He almost runs away with the film as the emotionally-uncertain Billy, displaying a tremendous power in the dramatic scenes. Best of all, he and Davis share an excellent mother / son chemistry in the movie's most important personal connection, their dynamic relationship is a treat to watch.
Kicking off his feature film CV, Lancaster has started strongly. His sturdy direction offers some memorable moments the opening sequence comes way out of left field, but works all the better for it although the slightly annoying 'Wonder Years' style voice-over probably could have been subdued. Lancaster demonstrates a terrific knack for slow motion; the aforementioned pre-credits sequence, the fateful car accident and a touching scene near the end all showcase the tremendous effect slow mo can have if used correctly. Hopefully this affecting little film marks the beginning of a long career for Lancaster.
With a shamefully limited theatrical run in Oz, don't let this one slip you by: write it down to buy the DVD later this year.
4 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)
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