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Personal Effects (2009)

R | | Drama | 27 March 2009 (Taiwan)
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Walter, 24, is a wrestler, competing for a spot on the national team when he learns of his sister's brutal death. He comes home to help his mother; he works out, takes a dead-end job, and ... See full summary »

Director:

David Hollander

Writers:

David Hollander (screenplay), Rick Moody (short story "Mansion of the Hill")
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michelle Pfeiffer ... Linda
Ashton Kutcher ... Walter
Kathy Bates ... Gloria
Spencer Hudson Spencer Hudson ... Clay
John Mann ... Hank
David Lewis ... Brice
Rob LaBelle ... Camden
Aleks Paunovic ... Tom
Brian Markinson ... Finneran
Sarah Lind ... Annie
Ali Skovbye ... Beth (as Alissa Skovbye)
Kyle Toy ... Jose
Dean Wray ... Larry
Brock Johnson Brock Johnson ... Mark
Mary Black ... Peggy
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Storyline

Walter, 24, is a wrestler, competing for a spot on the national team when he learns of his sister's brutal death. He comes home to help his mother; he works out, takes a dead-end job, and goes to the trial of the accused murderer. He becomes friends with Linda, her husband murdered; she's raising a teen son, Clay, who's deaf. Walter gets Clay into wrestling. He accompanies Linda to events at a center where she works. He sees her at the courthouse. They wait for verdicts. Walter's mother takes her daughter's things to a rummage sale. Clay has his father's pistol. How will grief express itself? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The space between loss and love.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some violence and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Germany | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 March 2009 (Taiwan) See more »

Also Known As:

Efectos personales See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When the film was in the development process, Chris Evans was attached to play Walter. See more »

Goofs

When Linda and Walter are riding on the bus, she spots someone on a side street. They start yelling for the bus driver to stop, which he eventually does. But when we see them stepping off the bus, it's right at the corner of the street where the person is. They would have had to walk back at least a block. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Clay: I collect goldfish. I keep them in a small tank in my bedroom. Other kids my age like dogs - if they like animals at all. But for me, it's goldfish. I understand them, living under water in a little bowl, hearing nothing, just watching everything through glass.
See more »

Connections

References Late Show with David Letterman (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

I Found All These Things
(Joseph Broussard)
Published by Roffignac Music Co./Malaco Music Co./Peermusic III, Ltd. (BMI)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: Personal Effects
31 July 2009 | by DICK STEELSee all my reviews

I suppose Ashton Kutcher is a shoo-in for his role here. Given a romantic relationship between a young man and a much older woman, Kutcher's real life experiences would have probably given him a head start in the auditions (if there was one), since he has walked the talk, and this aspect of the story would come off as no surprise. Then again, for writer-director David Hollander, this could have been getting this talked-about area out of the way, because the story here is richer than what the synopsis had painted, offering an engaging tale about the connections found between lost, broken souls.

The entire film is shrouded and draped in deep melancholy, and even the art direction and sets are nary bright and dandy, despite having weddings, an occasion for happiness, interspersed throughout the narrative. Hollander had crafted a series of multi-faceted characters and they got fleshed out brilliantly through the wonderful individual nuances to bring out the uniqueness of each one, with a common thread between them in having to be found holding onto things from the past, or plagued by the unhappy nightmares that life had dished out to them. For those who have lost someone dear, you'd probably feel just about the same way as the characters here, and especially in that seeking of justice when a crime has been committed against a loved one.

For those who equate Ashton Kutcher with his popular P'unked gag series, you'd probably already know about his flair for comedy, having his fair share of films like What Happened In Vegas and Just Married providing that showcase for his comic timing. For me, there's always this much under-exploited aspect of Kutcher's talent for dramatic flair. Glimpses of it are seen in The Butterfly Effect, one of my favourite films in recent times, and that same angst, despair and sheer quiet determination become more prominent here.

As for Michelle Pfeiffer, who wouldn't welcome her luminous presence? Last seen in Stardust after an extremely long hiatus from the silver screen, her role as the widow Linda brings about a certain sense of regal frailty, being the single parent to bring up a mute son Clay (Spencer Hudson) against difficult odds. Attracted to Kutcher's Walter, their relationship is actually nothing to scoff about, what being a cradle snatcher and all, but because of that instant connection that they share in the pain of having lost someone dear, and having to sit through agonizing court cases that could swing in anyone's favour.

And of course rounding up the star-studded cast is Kathy Bates as Walter's mom, attending therapy sessions to cope with the pain of loss, and learning to let go. Special mention too goes to Spencer Hudson's performance as the gentle giant Clay, who gets to show that he's no pushover when he gets cornered. While that led to some predictable elements toward the end, it wrapped up pretty nicely (though some may say cop-out), in having a rather confusing start iron itself out properly. Hollander managed to bookend the film going full circle, and I thought it was a neat spark of interest at the front in keeping things very fluid to engage the audience's attention.

Personal Effects is quiet, effectively emotive film that got blessed by a great cast highlighting that in moments of grief, there are always those whom we can turn to for comforting solace. It has potential to make it to my end of year shortlist of favourite films, and without a doubt, recommended!


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