Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.
Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family's island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack's drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris' sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.
British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
You will not really get the whole story of this film by its title, nor by the poster. It was good that I saw this film without any idea what this was all about, not even what genre it was. I thought it was a romantic comedy. It was not exactly one. Once the film started, I thought I would not like it. But as it went along, I was pulled in, all the way to its end. This is one good little film that deserves more attention.
Put simply, the story of "Straight As" is about how the lives of the Henderson family was affected when long-estranged Scott (Ryan Philippe) makes a surprise return, supposedly because their late mother had convinced him to. His sister-in-law Katherine (Anna Paquin) is flustered by Scott's unwelcome visit right when his brother William (Luke Wilson) was out of town on business. But it was with his nephew Charles and niece Gracie that Scott made his biggest connections. However, with his foul language, cigarettes and drugs, will Scott ever be welcomed back by the family he left more than ten years ago?
The actors of this film worked very well. I loved that the acting in this film is very understated and restrained There were no big hyper- dramatic scenes as family melodrama are mostly prone to having.
I have not seen Ryan Philippe act in a lead role for a long time. His career had never really recovered since he and Reese Witherspoon broke up. He was outside his usual zone playing the black sheep of the family. I believed he played the multiple levels of his complex character very well.
I had not seen Anna Paquin act in a straight dramatic role ever since she won the Oscar as a precocious child in "The Piano"! It was a welcome break from notable recent roles with supernatural powers. I liked her subtle attack on a role which could have been a showcase of histrionics in a lesser actress.
Luke Wilson's role was rather right up his old alley, but it was good to see him in a dramatic role. The actors who played the two kids, Riley Thomas Stewart and Ursula Parker, were both very cute, natural and moving. Powers Boothe, who played the Henderson patriarch, also had his shining moments.
I liked how the whole story unfolded. Yes, the story elements were all soap opera staples, but they way they were woven together by director James Cox was interesting and involving. The musical score and the songs were all very emotionally apt to the scenes they accompanied. The cinematographer liked to play with lights and glare, which were good. As a whole, the unheralded film was a pleasant surprise which more people should know about. 7/10.
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