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|Index||23 reviews in total|
I was fortunate enough to see this film at the world premiere at the
TriBeCa Film Festival. And I have to say I loved it. From the opening
frames it proved itself to be a film which is fresh, funny, sad,
curious and smart.
Geena Davis is a delight to watch as she inhabits this rather self-focused, wise talking character who surprises us constantly with her ability to move through tragedy and yet still find humor and heart.
Newcomer Harrison Gilbertson, at just 14 years old, shows incredible depth of maturity and range as his character Billy Conway deals with the ups and downs of life.
It's essentially a story of life, albeit a life peppered with tragic accidents. But it manages to avoid being bleak, which is quite a feat given some of the subject matter. It's always human and the writing by Brian Carbee is sharp, funny and poignant.
A great film whose visually stunning scenes will continue to replay in my mind, thanks to the brilliance of first time director Andrew Lancaster and cinematographer Ben Nott.
Don't miss it.
Accidents Happen Sydney Film Festival, June 2009 I was sold on this
film by a description of Geena Davis who "shines as the screwball
mother". The SFF program seemed to promise a screwball family comedy,
with Davis' fearlessness in performance carrying the required bravado.
So I was surprised when the opening sequence, a slow-motion shot of a
playing child interrupted by an elderly neighbour accidentally
barbecuing himself, suggested another tone was in the offing: a
coming-of-age black comedy. That combination works well here.
To labour the labeling a little, ladling on a portmanteau, ACCIDENTS HAPPEN is a 'dramedy'. It's a realistic story of an early 80s suburban family unit fractured by an auto accident. The emotional weight of their tragedy squeezes absurdity out of the cracks in their stasis. Gloria Conway (Davis) turns her rapid-fire wit to lashing her 'useless' ex-husband but that is clearly a losing game for her as she is not much more on top of her grief for their lost children than he is.
The relationship between surviving but bereft younger son Billy and his ballsy mother is the meat of the film. They present a remarkably compelling take on an interdependent relationship. They made me really care that they would work it out, and a refreshing change from the common film stereotype of merely alienated teens.
The film overall is a showcase of great characterization through screen writing and performances, not just from the poised teen-aged leads but also minor characters like the barbecue-induced widow Mrs Smolensky. She steps startlingly out of being a background character in the payoff scene at the film's end.
That final sequence also left me backpedaling on conclusions I leapt to earlier about the film's symbolism. Up until that point, the crucial role of a bowling ball in the plot lent itself to symbolism of emotional baggage, a crushing burden to carry and destructively out of control when neglected. That ball's ultimate destination revealed over the end-credits indicates the authors either didn't have that in mind, or were pointing us to some other significance entirely. Comments here suggesting what that significance might be are very welcome.
Originally posted at http://moviebookchats.posterous.com/movie-review-accidents-happen
I recently ventured to the 8th Annual Tribeca Film Festival to see the
anticipated film "Accidents Happen".
I was aware that the wonderful Geena Davis was in the picture which enticed me but was unaware that the cast had a few outstanding younger actors.
I expected a great film from the first scene but did not expect the outstanding, true and genuine performance that a young new shining talent - Harry Cook gave from start to finish. Every scene was honest & true there was an underlining depth that young actors rarely possess. I am never teary in films, but Cook's incredible performance brought me to tears on more than one occasion.
14 yr old Harrison Gilbertson also stood out in this film to me as someone you genuinely cared for. The cast were fabulous.
It was an absolute pleasure to watch this film & Harry Cook stood out in my eyes as truly remarkable talent that the world has been searching for for quite some time. I'm very impressed by everyone's work & look forward to seeing more from them all in the future.
Jane Griffin review-tribecafilm-accidentshappen09(C)
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)
This movie did a great job with the period details of 1982 and making
Australia look like America and Australians sound like Americans. One
mistake though: "Horror Smash" in the newspaper headline is not a
phrase you would see in an American newspaper. It's Australian.
The movie starts out alright, but the comic tone at the beginning sadly is not the tone of much of the movie. Then the film tries to be more than it is. Near the end there was this heavy emotional scene where the viewers are supposed to be moved and cry with the characters, but it just didn't work. The "Horror Smash" accident scene around which a lot of the story revolves actually looked pretty minor and how anyone could have possibly been hurt is hard to imagine.
This film has some stellar reviews by IMDb users so far. Look closely and you'll see a lot of those reviewers have never reviewed another film. Gotta make you suspicious. Maybe if you are closely tied to the production, you would really like to believe it is a monumental movie, but it isn't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie hooks you in with the promise of quirky indie cinema and
lovable characters, but what you're left with is a pointless, sappy
Awful acting. Awful script. Geena Davis is a saving grace in the film, with barely anything but hokey phrasings and maudlin tone shifts to work with.
The images and music were fantastic, but in between beautiful shots and gorgeous sounds there is nothing but exposition in dialogue, crappy narration at points, and seemingly mindless character motivations.
This is the product of a confused script. It takes from the writer's own childhood, so I can get how it's probably catered towards some sort of reality in the past. But there is no embellishment that makes it into a good story, simply coincidence and misfortune, most of which happens because of the actions of the characters - who contrary to what the movie states, are largely responsible. I mean, the kid throws a bowling ball down the street in the middle of the night and has the balls to say "It wasn't anyone's fault" when a car gets run off the road. Misguided adolescence, maybe. Good filmmaking and relatable themes? Not a chance.
I will concede that the climax of the film, where Davis finally visits her son, is very well done, and probably renders any audience speechless. But this does not save the film, nor does it seem to change where this trainwreck was heading.
I could complain more about the content of this illogical sap-fest, but I urge those of you looking for a quirky indie experience to look elsewhere. There are many better indie films that need supporting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Quite possibly the worst movie I've ever seen. Plot goes like this. Family driving in rain. Kid jumps around in car and causes accident. People die. Morbid stuff ensues. Pointless tangents abound. Some parts are so stupid it defies belief. In one part, he kills the father of his friend with a bowling ball then lies so the grieving family doesn't get the insurance money. The family who's father he just killed turn around, forgive him, then his friend enquires if he'll still be boinking his sister! I don't know why this movie ever got made. And what's with all the stupid slow-mo bits of emotionally torn teens flailing about in the rain? I hated this movie so much there is no way I'm spending any more time writing this. Be warned, this movie is a turd. Save yourself two hours of face-palm and avoid this mess at all costs.
'Monumental' was the word that flashed through my mind during the
emotional climax. The film itself or the emotional place it had taken
me to, I don't know, but that was the word. Mostly I laughed my way
through the film but when I stopped laughing I cried great buckets. I
also had to keep relaxing the tension in my face and body as I found it
a very stressful journey. Right from the beginning we learn that there
will be no easy outs, anything and everything can happen. Like all good
films this one let me leave my inner critic at the door and completely
surrender to the unfolding twisting tale of searing black comedy and
bitter soulful tragedy.
Geena Davis has always been brilliant but has she ever had such a brilliantly written role? Has any female actor? What starts as a dragon that breathes caustic wit unravels to reveal a woman that despite all odds continues to be the foundation, mortar and soulful centre for everyone. I found her character so utterly real and so refreshing for a female lead. She had balls, vulnerability, sex appeal, intelligence and of course great wit.
It must be hard for any nationality to see themselves played by others. One character is one thing but a whole neighbourhood and era could seem presumptuous. I couldn't comment on US reaction, accents or historical correctness, however, I did find it interesting to apply Australian storytelling to a universal tale and then set it in North America. What you get is an almost unbearably tragic but ultimately stoic tale told through an unrelenting, disposable wit and a brevity of emotion which never once falls into sentimentality or over indulgence.
It is sumptuous to watch in its cinematography and art direction and the young cast is deftly directed to deal with some of life's cruelest blows. What matters most is the story and there is so much meat to chew on in terms of character, plot and themes. It moves so swiftly from one cataclysmic event to the next proving not only that in life the only constant is change but also that it is bloody hard to keep up with that change; that life is uncontrollable and we are at its mercy to make sense of its absurdity. This film has a great future for a hip audience. From a viewer's entertainment perspective this film is monumental.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dodgy is the word that comes to mind when thinking about this movie.
There's some dodgy acting to the point of amateurism, particularly in
scenes between Doug and Billy. Although perhaps it wasn't entirely the
actors' fault. Maybe it was dodgy scene setup, dodgy directing, dodgy
dialog. Even Geena Davis looked a bit non-plussed at times.
Then there's the dodgy basic premise of the movie. It's called "Accidents Happen" but, as noted elsewhere, most of the incidents that happen to this family are the result of their own rank stupidity.
The dodgiest scenes occur towards the end of the film. Mrs Conway lies to the police, forces one of her sons to lie, and compels the complicity of her other son, his friend and his family. So Mrs Post mouths "Thank you" to Mrs Conway during the bingo game. Why exactly? Her son didn't steal the bowling ball, or fire it off down the road to cause her husband to swerve and die, so he's not going to jail. All that Mrs Conway's lie has done is rob her of her husband's insurance money. And she's saying Thank You?
But the grossest scene of irresponsibility and outrageous stupidity is yet to come. Billy decides, with the encouragement of his frail neighbour who has hidden the bowling ball although she looks as though she could barely lift it, to once more send it on its way down a public thoroughfare. So off it goes, winding its way till it ends up in a culvert, from where it comes crashing like a cannonball out onto a public road, to cause whatever unpredictable mayhem. Perhaps this time it could have smashed into a car containing a family returning from a day at the beach and killed them all. Crikey, that would have been hilarious. Instead, it crashes into the police car, which is presumably meant to be funny. What are Billy and his mother going to do when the police come calling? Lie again? Hopefully, the cops will dust it for finger prints and put Billy and the rest of his family in jail where they all belong. Now, THAT would be funny.
ACCIDENTS HAPPEN CATCH IT ( B+ ) Accident happen, is truly a delightful surprise. I am a sucker for Dysfunctional families and Coming of Age movies and this was a perfect combination of both. The movie is beautifully crafted and the slow motion accidents sequences are wonderfully shot. I really appreciate the director Andrew Lancaster who choose a simple story and portrayed so beautifully plus the comic view of severe issue was a different touch. Geena Devis did a fantastic job & her comic timing was just perfect. She proved yet again that she is a great actress. Harrison Gilbertson stole the show for me, he is cute kid and a great performer. I could see in her eyes how talented he was and standing in front of Geena Davis in such complex yet humorous story was wonderful. I surely can bet he will be a huge once he grows up a little more. Overall a great movie with great ensemble cast. Everyone did a great job making this movie memorable for me. Watch it!
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