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In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody's will reveals that he named his sister as Chip's guardian. The years of Joey's acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and becomes closer to his son. Written by
Patrick Wang focuses the image in a way that allows the viewer to imagine the other spaces not shown on screen. He also carefully selects each frame to reveal or obscure what is relevant to each moment. I have no other term for it but 360 degree acting. And included in this acting ensemble are architecture, objects, sounds, the movement of dust.
What startles too is the amount of time taken to get to know people. I can tell that the actors know this time will be taken, that their portraits will unfold in a more natural way because I saw them relax and actually find responses that at times startled them (themselves). Perhaps this is the greatest homage to actors an actor/ director/ writer can give.
In the accumulation of moments, I felt like I knew this house, I knew what it was to spend time with these people, with this young boy 'Chip', and so when moments such as the trial opened up or we see Joey (Wang)'s shoulders and back of head while he's making a book, emotion came up in me in a subtler way. My experience was less one of spectator and more one of someone who was a friend of this character. At one point, I did utter aloud in reference to Chip, 'please let him come home' in my living room viewing this film all by myself!
I was reading an interview with Alexander Payne in Film Comment recently and he said something like 'we have no idea yet what a film could be'. I think that Mr. Wang has taken his opportunity and really produced something he himself understands and we all must see. I'm thrilled that the film has been made.
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