(director: Gaby Dellal; screenwriters: from the novel by
Trieschmann; cinematographer: David Johnson;
editors: Giles Bury/Mick
Audsley; music: Stephen Warbeck; cast: Thomas
Dekker (Ethan), Elizabeth
McGovern (Jane), Jeremy Piven (Jack Kraft, D.A.), Lynn
Collins (Cindy), Joseph
Morgan (Rusty), Mira Sorvino (Angie), Kate Walsh (Roxanne), Rachel
Clentworth (Melody), Ameko Eks
Mass Carroll (Nate), Chris Ippolito (Will), Greg Lawson
(Bill), Julian Domingues (George), Emma Macgillivray (Rosie), Colin A.
Barbara Williams (Cindy's Mother); Runtime:
93; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Leslie Cowan/Shirley Vercruysse;
Magnolia Pictures; 2011-Canada/UK)
"The main story remains intriguing even if it never becomes profound."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Gaby Dellal ("On a Clear Day") directs this at times gripping drama, set in the Rocky Mountain small working-class town of Angels Crest. It's based on the novel by Leslie Schwartz and is written by Catherine Trieschmann.
Dekker) is the
young twenty-something doting but irresponsible father
of the cute three-year-old Nate (Ameko Eks
Mass Carroll ).
He's estranged from his alcoholic waitress wife Cindy
Collins), who has given him custody of the boy. One snowy morning Ethan
takes his playful son in his pickup truck out to the
woods so they can watch the snow fall in the beautiful
mountains. Nate falls asleep, and when the childlike
Ethan sees a deer he leaves the heat on, locks the
door, and leaves the kid buckled up in the truck while
he goes to track the deer. Returning some twenty
minutes later, Ethan finds his son missing. The next
morning Nate finds his son frozen to death, about a
quarter of a mile away from the truck, and is filled
with grief and guilt over his thoughtless act. The
locals in this close-knit community are willing to
forgive him and call it an unfortunate accident, but
the D.A., Jack Kraft (Jeremy Piven), haunted by the loss of
his son, prosecutes the heart-broken Ethan for
negligent homicide. The only local who agrees with
that decision, is the embittered Cindy.
After a moving setup and
depicting good small town atmosphere of the locals
hanging together after a tragedy, the film flags when
it goes off on too many unresolved subplots involving
the personal problems of the townies. Too much filler
time was used on subplots that went nowhere trying
desperately to make a point about good parenting.
There was the heavy-handed depiction of the lesbian
relationship between the ultra-sweet diner waitress Jane (Elizabeth
McGovern) and the more forward artist Roxanne (Kate
Walsh). One scene shows the visit of Jane's hostile
young adult son (Julian Domingues) and pregnant girlfriend ( Rachel
and how Jane gave him money despite his bad attitude.
It's pointed out he was raised by Jane's ex. Another
subplot over the vengeful DA's actions, coming to
Angels Cross and trying desperately to get the locals
to bad mouth Ethan was a subplot that was awkwardly
handled. It was murky because we never know the back
story of why the one-dimensional DA is such an angry
man and biased prosecutor, and his overwrought
characterization sticks out as misplaced in comparison
to the more naturalistic performances of most of the
locals. Mira Sorvino plays the goodhearted
diner owner Angie, a single parent of two girls who is
given an inconsequential part for an actress with her
rep. The filmmaker was trying to say something about
Angie's responsible parenting, but since her character
was so undeveloped nothing revealing could be said
But despite these setbacks in the narrative, the main story remains intriguing even if it never becomes profound or fails to bring us any closer to understanding how to deal with grief. Dellal had a good narrative in place, but lets it slip out of focus with diverting but unimportant side stories.
REVIEWED ON 11/24/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ