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Cigarettes et bas nylon (2010)
A Powerful Look at French War Wives
This is really an excellent slice of life film, dealing with French war wives near the end of World War II. The characters seem like real people (a prime definition of effective acting), and the story line is unpredictable, much like in actual life. These women are fascinating to watch, as they deal with culture shock, heartbreak, displacement, and, in a very few cases, fulfillment. Army personnel in France are quite convincing, too, never "caught in the act of acting." The second half of the movie depicts home-front America, with authentic looking sets, props, and ambiance. Special accolades go to Adélaïde Leroux, who plays the lead character, Jeannette, and to the director, Fabrice Cazeneuve. This was originally shown as a TV movie (Cigarettes et bas nylons) in 2010, but it looks resplendent enough to have been made for the big screen. It is in French, with English subtitles. Be aware that dialogue is swift, so it takes a fast reader to keep up with all that is said. The English title (Chesterfield) comes from the name of a U.S. Army camp in France where young French women were instructed on how to make worthy wives for their American husbands.
A Promising Premise That Disappoints
The premise of EQUALS is intriguing, depicting a society that suppresses all emotions -- with the aid of drugs, if need be. To begin this review on a positive note, EQUALS is visually stunning.The set design is very convincing, immersing the viewer in a futuristic world of high technology. We have been there before, of course, but in EQUALS the enforcement of governmental edicts is not so brutal and violent as in other such films (1984, THX-1138). Unfortunately, the lead characters are underplayed to a fault, with both Nicholas Hoult (Silas) and Kristen Stewart (Nia) so wooden on screen as to make the story quite boring and inconsequential. I found it rather difficult to invest much interest in what became of these two halfhearted revolutionaries. Secret liaisons in dystopian societies have been presented much better than in this film. One audio problem is that much of the dialogue is whispered, overwhelmed by loud music. And what about the ending? There is no danger of spoiling it for you, as the filmmakers have accomplished that themselves. You will be left...well...emotionless at the final fade, surely not what the writers (Drake Doremus and Nathan Parker) intended. Disappointing.
Toki o kakeru shôjo (2010)
Acting Is Fine, But the Plot Is Slow and Unconvincing
This came as a disappointment to me. I like time-travel films, as a rule, but TIME TRAVELLER was too kitschy for me to suspend disbelief. The CGI is amateurish, almost as bad as the Ed Woodish movie-within-a-movie depicted in the story line. Riisa Naka is wonderful as the 18-year-old leading character, an adorably buoyant teenager who is also able to register true anguish when the situation demands. Worst of all, for me, was one scene that seemed to be mistakenly edited in from another film entirely. It involves Akira's first meeting of hippie cameraman Hasegawa"Gotetsu" Masamichi (Aoki Munetaka). All of a sudden, this family-friendly movie is discussing a hard-on/boner and using the word sh!t, right in front of sweet Akira. What in the world was the director thinking here? That killed it for me, and I lost all respect for TIME TRAVELLER's endearing sense of innocence. The movie is not disastrous, but neither would I recommend investing more than two slow hours of your lifetime to it.
Still Life (2013)
A Quiet Little Film That Will Inspire You
I found this to be a sad but engaging film, with Eddie Marsan perfectly understated in the role of a lonely civil "detective" who devotes his life to finding relatives of the deceased to attend their funerals. With precious little financial reward, this unassuming bureaucrat fights a quiet, personal battle, so that proper respect might be shown to his fellow human beings, no matter how low their standing. Not everyone will like this film, for it is unquestionably slow and devoid of action, and yet it manages to capture the truism that one person can indeed have a positive impact on countless acquaintances merely by showing them common decency and understanding. The ending is a bit contrived, I thought, but did convey a strong message that obscure people can nonetheless leave indelible effects for the better. Eddie Marsan is not your typical leading man, but he handles his role nicely, and sweet Joanne Froggatt is well cast as an endearing young woman whose troubled, embattled father has passed away.
The Chisholms (1979)
The First Disc Is Brilliant and Not to Be Missed!
I give a ten for the first disc alone, which contains the complete miniseries of 1979. These four episodes are superb, fully the equal of "Lonesome Dove," and I can give no higher praise than that! As for the other two discs, I would advise that you skip them entirely, so as not to spoil the glorious emotional power that has been generated by the first one. Beginning in 1980, lesser actors play some of the well-established characters, and the production quality goes down, WAY down, to a routine TV series. The gorgeous Stacey Nelkin, as Bonnie Sue Chisholm in 1979, is replaced by Delta Burke in 1980, and the other principal roles, even those handled by the original actors, seem to be going through the motions, sleepwalking. But I digress.
The first disc is a classic that should be placed in the pantheon of television and cinematic achievements. It is simply fantastic, from Chapter I through Chapter IV, and should have won multiple awards. Robert Preston's performance, as patriarch Hadley Chisholm, is worthy of the Best Actor of the Year Emmy - - and I say that by Oscar standards! Rosemary Harris (Minerva Chisholm) is every bit as good, and I would place Ben Murphy (Will Chisholm) in that same category. In a smaller but intensely dramatic role, Sandra Griego is marvelous as Keewedinok. Besides everything else, only the 1979 miniseries contains the perfectly fashioned music score of themes from three of Aaron Copland's ballets ("Appalachian Spring," "Billy the Kid," and "Rodeo"), sensitively crafted by Elmer Bernstein.
To summarize, do indeed buy "The Chisholms" on DVD, finally available after 36 years of neglect, and watch the first disc (Chapters I to IV from 1979) over and over at a reasonable cost. And then forget the other two discs, which will only serve to ruin the euphoric feeling of cinematic brilliance.
Medal for the General (1944)
A Touching Story of the Home Front in Britain
"Medal for the General" is an understated, heart-warming movie that British National Films produced during the penultimate year of the war. Maurice Elvey directs with a light touch that is just right for the emotional content. This is the sort of "small" film that the British are able to bring off brilliantly, with a restraint that maintains a true-to-life spirit. Hollywood, wearing its heart on the sleeve, would have made a mess of it. Elizabeth Baron's screenplay is based on James Ronald's novel of the same title. Godfrey Tearle is marvelous as General Victor Church, sometimes irascible, sometimes lovable, always fully in character and sensitive to those fellow actors around him. Without exception, the evacuee children's parts are handled with aplomb. I cannot shout their praises loudly enough. Among them is eleven-year-old Petula Clark, who of course would go on to enjoy a chart-topping career in popular music. Fans of "Dad's Army" will recognize John Laurie (gloomy Private James Frazer) in the small but amusing role of McNab. William Alwyn composed the score, so the musical soundtrack was in capable hands.
The Piglet Files (1990)
Quite Funny, With Quirky Characters
I liked this series very much. While not quite up to the brilliant standards of Nicholas Lyndhurst's later "Goodbye Sweetheart," TPF offers amusing situations and quirky recurring characters - - especially Drummond (Clive Francis) and Dexter (Michael Percival). I would describe it as an ensemble comedy, and that genre can usually be counted upon for plenty of laughs. Occasionally (about once an episode), there is a laugh-out-loud moment with inspired writing. Otherwise, the chuckles are milder but still enjoyable. Personally, I would be happy to spend any half-hour staring at the cutie who plays "Flint." (Does anyone know whether Louise Catt has appeared in any other telly or cinema? Nothing else is listed for her on IMDb.) Try "The Piglet Files." I think you will be glad that you did, provided you are not expecting a profound classic.
Shining Through (1992)
Doomed by Its Own Stupidity
This film was nicely staged, probably with a hefty budget, but in terms of wartime intrigue, it falls as flat as a Pfannkuchen. Melanie Griffith is inept in her role as a would-be spy in Nazi Germany. With her character's stupidity and embarrassingly unconvincing command of the German language, she would not have lasted a half-hour before being discovered by the Gestapo and sent back in a boxcar to Hollywood. Michael Douglas's performance was good during the first part of the film, but his "heroic" rescue of Linda Voss was implausible in the extreme, almost laughably so. It was a miscalculation to have Linda narrate the story in a long series of flashbacks, as we in the audience were consigned to feel no threat whatsoever to her survival. And why do the native Germans speak in (subtitled) German for much of the film but then revert to English in other parts? That strains our suspension of disbelief. Worst of all, a spy thriller should never be as boring as "Shining Through." I had trouble staying awake, which surely is not a good sign.
Random Encounters (2013)
Witty Script and Brilliant Cast
I loved RANDOM ENCOUNTERS and found the leading couple, Abby Wathen and Michael Rady, to be adorable and perfectly cast. Somehow they bring off the virtually impossible feat of creating powerful chemistry while sharing very minimal screen time together. I was rooting wholeheartedly for Laura and Kevin to find each other again after their chance meeting early in the film because these two likable characters seemed so ideally suited. Screenwriters Nate Barlow and Boris Undorf have produced an inspired script that is witty and smart.
(NOTE TO SELF: Skip that stupid, anticlimactic scene under the closing credits.)
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Truffaut's Vision Falls Woefully Flat
I remember seeing this film when it was first released - - and being utterly disappointed. Why? Truffaut turns it into his own personal fantasy, light years away from Ray Bradbury's visionary concept. Oskar Werner (said to have a dislike for the director) is impossibly wooden in the lead role. It was a miscalculation to cast Julie Christie in dual roles. The special effect of a flying police patrol is laughably amateurish. The lame epilogue, allowing us to wander among idealists who have volunteered to keep books alive by memorizing them, has no dramatic impact whatsoever. A remake has been rumored for years, but who knows what the Bradbury estate might have to say about it? The first attempt fell woefully flat.
The Cold Room (1984)
Don't Bother with This Dismal Mess
I had high expectations for this film, hoping to catch a glimpse of East Germany during the Cold War. Moreover, the story was reputed to include an element of time travel, which is a genre that I enjoy. But The Cold Room is an unmitigated mess. Never does director James Dearden make an effort to clarify what is happening on screen. Is Carla Martin the same person as Christa Bruckner, or is she a lookalike or distant relative? Does she actually return to the days of Nazi Germany, or is this simply a dream sequence? Who rapes her, if indeed she is raped at all, and why does Carla stab her own father instead of Christa stabbing Wilhelm, the butcher? And why does Carla's father, Hugh Martin, arrange for a father-daughter reunion in East Germany, of all places? Nothing is explained by final curtain, so the audience is left to wonder why they have invested an hour and a half of their lives in watching this dismal, boring story slowly unfold upon itself. It is difficult to sympathize with any of the characters. George Segal is a smiling, long-suffering wimp, hardly changing expression or attitude - - even after being stabbed in the chest by his own daughter. He has learned nothing about her, except that she might be a tad mentally unbalanced. Amanda Pays seems to be a good actress, but her character is hopelessly self-centered and spoiled. Who can really blame her for being confused about what is happening around her? Even reading ahead in the script would provide not a clue!
The Book and the Rose (2001)
A Good Message, Nicely Told
Sure, the acting, costumes, and set decoration may be only adequate, no better, but the story is nicely told and effective. Some people have contended that this tale gives a mixed message - - that the main character is rewarded by beauty after all - - but that is a misinterpretation. The story may be told (and seen) from the man's point of view, but the moral is presented by the young woman. She knew she was attractive, so she devised a way to avoid making her appearance the basis of any relationship. If the soldier was so shallow as to be interested in external beauty alone, he never would have known where to find her for their first meaningful visit. See it from the young woman's perspective, and this tale makes perfect sense. Recommended!
Les émotifs anonymes (2010)
Almost Perfect, But . . .
ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS is a quiet gem - - a joy to be savored throughout nearly all of its brief 79-minute span. The entire cast is likable, including those in supporting or even minor roles. There are no bad guys, which is refreshing in itself. The two leads (Isabelle Carré and Benoît Poelvoorde) are superb, and the four chocolate factory employees are wonderfully true to life. My only reservations would be that bizarre, incongruous scene with Angelique's mother, which seems to be accidentally spliced in from some other movie's cutting room floor and (more damaging still) the unsatisfying conclusion. I won't throw in a spoiler here, but in my opinion, there was no reason to go beyond the final, sweet reconciliation and show . . . well, everything that comes next. Far better left to the imagination. Take out those two egregious miscalculations, and you have a well-nigh perfect little film.
Don't believe the cynics. FLYBOYS is terrific!
I must have seen a different movie than the one lambasted so harshly on this site. I think FLYBOYS is excellent throughout, with nary a false step along the way. Okay, I'll grant that some of the aerial CGI is unconvincing, but the great majority of it adds exciting action - - and who really cares if a physicist might find fault? Staging is brilliant, treating us to plenty of period detail, and the story is taut, with lots of intriguing characters about whom I truly care. I do not find FLYBOYS excessively clichéd. Indeed, the screenwriters (Phil Sears, Blake T. Evans, and David S. Ward) quite often back off from easy stereotypes. If anything, the fine cast UNDERacts, which is a refreshing change from other films in this genre. Particular praise goes to James Franco as Blaine Rawlings, Jean Reno as a believable Captain Georges Thenault, and Jennifer Decker as a sweet French girl named Lucienne. The love bypath within this film demonstrates how sensitive the writers are to avoiding the typical Hollywood gimmick of throwing in a boy-girl relationship that eventually overpowers the essential plot line (PEARL HARBOR, TITANIC). Here, the characters of Blaine and Lucienne are treated honestly, with the respect they deserve, and not flung into the sack after knowing each other for five minutes. I'm sorry that this film was not successful at the box office, for director Tony Bill and his massive crew do a fabulous job of storytelling, and I am proud and unashamed to add it among my favorite war movies of all time. Please ignore the pseudo-intellectual posturing of the professional and amateur critics, and give FLYBOYS a chance. It is wonderful from beginning to end.
Copie conforme (2010)
The Vulnerability of Love
"Certified Copy" is true to life, from first frame to last. It plays like two very real people trying to re-explore their abandoned relationship, while leisurely walking through a charming Italian villa that serves as a backdrop. I'm not sure how the film was shot, but it does seem as if non-speaking roles among the supporting cast were taken by extras who just happened to be strolling about town. Some bystanders even appear to be gawking at the camera. This gives "Certified Copy" the look of authenticity, for the viewer becomes a witness to the filmmaker's travelogue while also deeply caring for what happens between Elle and James (Juliette Binoche and William Shimell). I won't give away the end, but my sympathies went to Elle, a sweet single mom who is willing to invest her soul in a man she loves, while the object of her affection, James Miller, finds no one quite as interesting as himself, fascinated by his own wit and intelligence. At one critical point, he puts his arm on Elle's shoulder, and we hope that he is finally learning to open up his heart and share his emotions rather than secluding them within. But "Certified Copy" is never that easy. It is unpredictable and will keep you guessing. I liked this film quite a lot for its sensitive depiction of the vulnerability of love, but don't expect to see quick cuts, fancy camera work, or special effects. "Certified Copy" is a faithful observation of life itself.
Dazzling Effects Capture the Eye
I liked "Hugo" quite a lot, mostly because of the feast of visual effects that the film offers. The opening sequence, zooming through long-ago Paris, is exhilarating, perhaps even better than a similar flight in the otherwise forgettable "Moulin Rouge" (2001) by Baz Luhrmann. The story of "Hugo" is rather predictable and only mildly intriguing, and the acting is nothing special. However, Martin Scorsese's effective command of photography and sound leave no doubt that a master filmmaker is at work. It is well-nigh impossible to take one's eyes off this delicious screen banquet. What dazzling impact will next make itself be felt? Watch "Hugo" and be prepared for an amazing journey. Just don't expect much in the way of eventful storytelling.
Strong Performances Rise Above Distasteful Subject Matter
Watching "Cobb" is anything but an enjoyable experience, and yet I am glad to have seen it - - once. The title role is handled with great power by Tommy Lee Jones, who seems to have inhabited the fierce persona of Tyrus Raymond Cobb without becoming a caricature of that legendary sports figure. Yes, the acting is perhaps a bit over the top at times, but somehow those excesses fit well into the overarching story. Cobb was, after all, larger than life, even in his later years. The film is quite faithful to Al Stump's biography ("Cobb"), even to the point of Stump's appearance throughout the production as a character who receives at least as much screen time as Cobb himself. Few biographies, to my knowledge, place the author in such close proximity to the subject. Baseball action is nicely portrayed, mixing old footage with black-and-white recreations and often (Zelig- or Gump-like) placing Tommy Lee Jones among actual ballplayers and managers of the past. Watch for Roger Clemens as an opposing pitcher. It should be said that both the movie and the book concentrate much more heavily on the present day than Cobb's career with the Detroit Tigers. Indeed, maybe they should have been called "Cobb's Last Days," so lopsided are the narratives. Worth seeing, but rather unpleasant.
Fine Script Really HIts the Mark
"Felicity: An American Girl Adventure" is wonderful filmmaking, sure to capture the attention of anyone who appreciates historical drama with a human touch. This one is set in Williamsburg, Virginia, during the American Revolution, and the title character displays a tenacious heroism in her quest to do what is right, despite the threat of imminent danger. Felicity Merriman is beautifully played by Shailene Woodley. She is just perfect for the role, with an energetic screen presence, illuminated by a sweet smile that will steal your heart. Felicity's love for an abused horse teaches her, indirectly, how kindness to others can have a "ripple effect" for goodness and justice, no matter that the colonial world has erupted into rebellion. The direction is fluent but not overdone, cinematography is attractive, and acting is uniformly strong throughout the cast. In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that some of the period dialogue does not exactly roll off the lips in convincing fashion, and the special effect of snowfall looks awfully phony, but otherwise I bought this delightful production with no problem at all. You will be happy with this splendid film, which is funny, VERY touching at times, and ultimately inspirational.
An Engaging Story, Beautifully Produced
I liked "Samantha: An American Girl Holiday" very much indeed. It is a rather gentle tale but one that is not afraid to tackle such issues as family loyalty, class divisions, women's suffrage, and child labor. The title character, Samantha Parkington, is played by AnnaSophia Robb, and she is absolutely wonderful, with an expressive face and an honest approach to her craft that leads us, the viewers, to believe wholeheartedly in her on-screen portrayal. Samantha seems utterly real, and that of course is the highest compliment to which any actor can aspire. There are no weaknesses in the cast, and special accolades should go to Kelsey Lewis, who plays Samantha's best friend, Nellie O'Malley, and to Jordan Bridges, who plays Uncle Gard. Direction and cinematography are splendid throughout, with an effective sense of period (1904). The musical score is lovely, supportive of the action, and (most important of all) non-intrusive, never calling attention to itself. You will enjoy this film from beginning to end.
Far Too Heavy-Handed
"Kit Kittredge" began well, and I was impressed by the nice sense of period that the film invoked. Then, after about a half-hour or so, everything went awry, and I got too large a dosage of heavy-handed screenplay and direction. Let me hasten to say, however, that any shortcomings are not the fault of little Abigail Breslin, who is wonderful in the title role. Chris O'Donnell, who plays her father, is quite believable too, as is a nicely understated Max Thieriot in the role of young hobo Will Shepherd. On the debit side, Joan Cusack overacts by a wide margin as mobile librarian Miss Bond, and so does Wallace Shawn as newspaper editor Mr. Gibson. I suppose the main weakness, as so often happens in the motion picture industry, is the shallow script. It is way too manipulative and predictable. I could guess most all that might happen, with everything being tied up in a nice, comfy package by the final iris. Nope, that is not life, and it is also not effective storytelling. The "bad guys" are portrayed as buffoons, simply comic relief (complete with cartoonish music), and of course the downtrodden folks in the hobo community come little short of sainthood, one and all. If you want a truly great American Girl movie, go instead for "Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front," which is outstanding in every respect.
Evokes the Period Beautifully
I am unfamiliar with the series of "American Girl" books, so I viewed this film strictly on its own merits, just to see how accurately it depicts the American home front of World War II. Believe me, it does so astonishingly well. Frankly, I did not expect much from such a modest, unheralded release, but "An American Girl on the Home Front" is a sincere effort that should shame the shallow-minded producers of Hollywood rubbish. The screenplay is convincing, the performances and direction are uniformly excellent, and the sense of period is wonderfully captured, with evocative props, staging, and costumes. The people on screen seem utterly real instead of cardboard stereotypes, and the plot kept me guessing. I genuinely felt for these characters - even bringing tears to the eyes - and the film made me wish for a simpler, more innocent time than what we experience today. Watch this film, and grieve for a long-lost America that will never be again.
Cardboard Villains Sabotage This Film
Sorry to be a dissenting voice here, but in my opinion this film is a real mess. I hasten to add that I am a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Cummings, and Priscilla Lane. They all perform their duties well, and Hitch's trademark dramatic touch is much in evidence. Unfortunately, the story line seems to have been concocted by a committee of three, with predictably unfocused results. Worst of all, the bad guys are totally unrealistic. They can always be counted on to behave in such a manner as to advance the plot, no matter if it serves their own heinous purposes or not. The movie also descends into preachiness at times, which I suppose can be attributed to the 1942 provenance and the uncertainty of the war's outcome. I wanted to like "Saboteur," but it fails to deliver the goods.
Nice Staging Ruined by Weak Script
I remember being disappointed by "Yanks" when it was first released in 1979. Now I have seen it again nearly 35 years later, and my opinion has not changed.
First, the positive news. The staging, editing, and photography are top notch, with a keen eye for period detail. Some of the acting is quite good too, especially Lisa Eichhorn (as Jean Moreton) and Tony Melody (as her dad, Jim Moreton).
But the negatives dominate. The script (by Colin Wellan and Walter Bernstein) is inferior in every way, with a predictable story and far too many stereotypes for my liking. Most of the Americans are loudmouthed braggarts, and I was just waiting for the inevitable scenes of racial bigotry that seem to infest all such tales of Yanks in Britain. It should have had no part in this story. Indeed, if the script had stuck to a love triangle among Jean, Matt, and Ken, all would have been much better -- instead of trying to tackle the whole of WWII in a single bite.
Dialogue is laughably clichéd throughout, and I cannot understand why Richard Gere is considered to be a capable actor. Neither is William Devane much good here. Score big points for the superiority of British acting over the Americans. Worst of all, and a lethal weakness, I sensed absolutely no chemistry whatsoever between Mr. Gere and Ms. Eichhorn. How anyone could fail to fall madly in love with Lisa Eichhorn, in person or on screen, is beyond me, but Gere somehow managed to do it. What a dud performance. Too bad because his character could have been rather likable. Instead, all he ever talked about was Arizona, and I could not see any reason for Jean to have become interested in him.
Don't waste your time on "Yanks" unless you want to enjoy a nice performance by the sweet, lovely Lisa Eichhorn. I wish the movie could have been about Jean and Ken (Derek Thompson). Now, that would have been worth watching -- though of course the title would have to be changed!
Sky West and Crooked (1966)
Hayley Makes It Worthwhile
I did not much care for this film the first time I saw it, but a second viewing created a more favorable impression. The acting is very good all around, particularly from the talented Hayley Mills, who holds my attention at every moment that she is on screen. Ian McShane, too, is quite convincing as the young Gypsy man, Roibin. Also deserving of special praise is Geoffrey Bayldon as the vicar. For a change, it is nice to see a church pastor portrayed in a positive light. The direction (John Mills) is always acceptable and at times much more than that. The fleeing of Brydie White is nicely handled with swiftly moving camera and quick cuts. Close-ups are very effective indeed, especially of Brydie, Roibin, and Rev. Moss. I love the way Hayley Mills invests her character with tiny facial mannerisms that almost certainly were not in the script. For example, watch her while Brydie is recuperating in the wagon's bed. Her look of confusion when she wakes up, views her surroundings, and later tastes the hedgehog soup is so real and convincing! She is just a brilliant and captivating actress who is able to make her roles come to life in a believable way. Hayley is, of course, utterly beautiful throughout every frame of the film, and it is no wonder why the Gypsy would be so smitten by Brydie's charms. The acting of village children is rather a hit and miss proposition, sometimes quite good and often impossibly amateurish. Plaudits, too, for Brydie's lovable canine companion, "Dog," whose real name is "Hamlet." Be sure to see the image gallery, which is one of the DVD's bonus extras. It contains lots of black-and-white shots from behind the scenes. Several show Hayley Mills's father (director John Mills) and mother (writer Mary Hayley Bell) during the days of production. Not a perfect film, by any means, but if you liked the far superior "Whistle Down the Wind," you will probably find something to enjoy here as well.
Saving Sarah Cain (2007)
A Thought-Provoking Triumph
This is one powerful movie that somehow manages to transcend the wide chasm between mainstream and message. The acting is superb, the writing is fresh and believable, and the production qualities are top notch. Considering the unlikely premise, this had all the makings of just another manipulative barf bag of Hollywood drivel. But in the sensitive hands of Michael Landon, Jr., it speaks to the audience with the voice of truth. Can I single out one performance above all the others? No way. The kids are wonderful, Elliott Gould hits a home run, Tom Tate is convincing and likable in a thankless supporting role, and Lisa Pepper is absolutely "real," causing us to see her character as an actual human being instead of a screen persona. Resembling a young Jennifer Aniston, she knows just how far to take her character before crossing the line into screen histrionics. Terrific! Mark McKenzie's music, while not quite reaching the sublime heights of "The Last Sin Eater" (2007) is lovely and unobtrusive, at times punctuating the dramatic moments with a light and never maudlin touch. Even the high school students are not the expected stereotypes. It is clear that Landon set out to craft a special film of honesty, solid values, and cinematic integrity, and he succeeded brilliantly on all counts. I recommend "Saving Sarah Cain" without reservation.