In a small American town still living in the shadow of a terrible coal mine accident, the disappearance of a teenage boy draws together a surviving miner, the lonely wife of a mine executive, and a local boy in a web of secrets.
A recent coal mining accident has killed several miners and left the small town community scarred and traumatized. The wealthy mining executive responsible for the accident, Bill Doyle, wants to pretend that it never happened, referring to the mining families as "trailer trash". His wife Diana and son JT know better, though. Diana is drowning in guilt and feels socially awkward around the other rich snobs she used to be friends with. She copes with it by having an affair with Amos, the lone survivor of the mining accident who now walks with a limp and lives with his dying father. JT is worried that his father will go to prison, and takes out his anger on the mining families' children, especially Owen Briggs. Owen is a young boy who lost his father in the disaster. He lives with his bad-tempered aunt, his grieving mother, and his little brother James, who has Down's Syndrome. One day Owen is in the woods with James, and he gets into a fight with JT, accidentally going too far...Written by
When Amos's father is taken away, Amos magically gets the use of his right arm again while he sits on the pavement. See more »
I'm not very popular, but I have a few good friends.
Well, that's really all you need. I think people with a lot of friends are usually not that interesting.
Were you popular? You seem like you were.
I do? Well, I was a cheerleader, so... that always brought me a certain amount of attention.
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"What do you think it's like to die?" Owen (Jacob Lofland)
It's a given that tragic death in a small town stays forever, impinging on virtually every life now and hereafter. First-time writer-director Sara Colangelo's Little Accidents, set in a coal town, echoes The Sweet Hereafter's frozen aftermath of children's deaths aboard a bus plunging into a pond. Both involve decisions to reveal or not the culpable parties; both intercut among those players who are most affected by the tragedy.
Young Owen (Jacob Lofland) witnesses the death of JT (Travis Tope) and hides the truth. JT is the son of manager Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas) and Owen is a deceased coal miner's son. The accident that killed his dad and nine others is under investigation as the union fights to suppress testimony from conflicted survivor Amos (Boyd Holbrook, who reminds me of Keith Carradine) that would incriminate the coal company and shut down the mine.
You can see the inter-connections, as is true in any small town, and the inherent conflicts, exacerbated by the closeness and the sometimes illicit connections, such as JT's mom, Diana Doyle (Elizabeth Banks), and Amos. Colangelo keeps the plot slowly moving ahead while some characters and events border on the formulaic. When Owen helps Diana with her garden, the plot takes an unfortunate contrivance tack. Yet the drama is still effectively bound to us as figurative for communal responsibility and domino-effect relationships and tragedies.
Cinematographer Rachel Morrison effectively creates the working-class milieu, much as in Out of the furnace, in part because she uses a great deal of natural light reinforced by old-fashioned 35mm film. It's not a gloomy world, just one dominated by grey skies and dim futures. No sunshine can mitigate the sense of loss pervading the town. These Accidents are hardly little.
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