Elizabeth Alison Gray is just your average suburban 11-year old waiting for adolescence to arrive when she finds out her whole life has been a lie. With only her imagination to guide her, she runs away to find the truth.
It's 1976 and Elizabeth is just your average suburban 11-year-old praying for adolescence to arrive when she discovers her whole life has been a lie. With only her imagination to guide her, Elizabeth runs away in search of her true identity. Her adoptive mother Marion is then forced to break out of the carefully constructed "truth" she's been clinging to and go after her daughter. This leads to a cathartic cross-country trek by a mother searching for a daughter who's searching for a mother - both of them really searching for themselves.... The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is a poignant, sometimes funny, very female, coming of age story that explores the tension between creating identity and finding it within... Written by
I had the pleasure of being invited to see this film at it's opening night last Friday, April 8 in Vancouver. As a Canadian filmmaker, I'm always happy to support Canadian films but am even happier when the ones I'm supporting are good! This little gem of a film does not disappoint! Lead actress Julia Stone does a great job in the lead character Elizabeth searching for her biological roots in the hopes that songstress Dolly Parton might meet her expectations. Stone delivers the part with a great sense of maturity and considering she has to carry a good chunk of the film, I have to commend her on her performance. I also really enjoyed Gil Bellows as her Dad and Macha Grenon as the Mother. Both do well in their respective roles but this film's POV is that of Elizabeth and her journey.
I think what I liked best about this film is that there is a very nice balance in this family film that both mothers and their pre-teen daughters can sit through. There seem to be less of these films out there that can attract both and Director Tara Johns does a great job engaging both audiences. With it's fairly modest budget, this film's production design is very authentic to the 70's genre and the film's cinematography is really lovely. I felt there was an authenticity that was accurately portrayed while keeping me in the story.
One more thing to note, this soundtrack is great! With most songs being either performed or written by Dolly Parton, you're left humming many of the tunes as you leave the theatre. I was given one as a gift and haven't stopped listening to it! If you have a chance to check this out, do so...it's hard to find family films today that don't go overboard in sentimental mush and this one definitely doesn't. Congrats to Johns on this project and I look forward to seeing more of actress Stone as she grows and matures. I have a feeling she has a long career ahead of her.
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