EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|IMAGINARY CRIMES (director: Anthony Drazan; screenwriters: from the book by Sheila Ballantyne/Kristine Johnson/Davia Nelson; cinematographer: John J Campbell; editor: Elizabeth Kling; music: Stephen Endelman; cast: Harvey Keitel (Ray Weiler), Fairuza Balk (Sonya), Kelly Lynch (Valery), Vincent D'Onofrio (Mr. Webster), Elisabeth Moss (Greta), Seymour Cassel (Eddie), Chris Penn (Jarvis), Diane Baker (Abigail Tate), Richard Venture (Judge Klein); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: James G. Robinson; Warner Brothers; 1994)|
|"All too familiar
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Anthony Drazan ("Zebrahead"/"Hurlyburly")
sensitively directs this all too
familiar coming-of-age story, that he keeps emotionally honest and gets
great performances out of his stars. But it's all too predictable, never reaches
any depth in its insights, and I found it growing increasingly tiresome
because the storyline was so derivative. It's set in Portland,
Oregon circa 1962.
Crimes is based on the autobiographical
novel by Sheila Ballantyne, and is written by first-timers Kristine Johnson and Davia Nelson. Harvey Keitel
plays Ray Weiler, a
small-time con man, operating on either side of the law and with big
dreams about striking it rich (mining schemes in the Cascade Mountains
and other get-rich-quick
scams that never pan out). Ray
also has a drinking problem. He's a single parent ever since his
cancer-stricken wife (Kelly Lynch), seen in flashbacks, died eight
years ago. Ray struggles to raise his two teenage girls with all the
essentials and an appreciation for culture, while keeping one step
ahead of the bill collector. He aims high, to be the best father in the
world. Unfortunately he's given to childlike
acts of destructiveness and being delusional, not accepting his
failings in a mature and realistic way.
eldest daughter Sonya (Fairuza
Balk) is a bright 17-year-old high school
senior and an aspiring author, who writes emotionally gripping raw
stories. The youngest daughter Greta (Elisabeth Moss) is a junior high school student who has learned
how to survive in such a chaotic household, where dad's lies are the
norm. Both girls have become embarrassed, alienated and eventually
deeply hurt over their dad's never ending lies, schemes, and empty
promises. He's at risk of losing them completely, if he doesn't learn
how to communicate better with them and get his life in order.
D'Onofrio plays the dedicated private school English teacher, who
realizes dad is the source of Sonya's writing materials and encourages
her writing and to attend college to polish her writing skills.
move disappointingly along for the hard-pressed family, until things
reach critical mass when Ray's crooked mining scheme hits some trouble
because he has not obtained all the mining rights he claims he has.
This bothers his long suffering business partner Eddie (Seymour Cassel)
and it bothers even more his new investor Jarvis (Chris Penn), a
dangerous man who is becoming impatient with the way things are going
family drama film is seen from Sonya's point of view (which is why Ray
is viewed in such a shallow childish way), who acts as the narrator. It
asks the question if a seemingly well-intentioned but deceitful con man
is really capable of being a good dad and if a child brought up in such
an unstable household can overcome such a hardship.
bearable because Keitel nails his role, but it never becomes endearing
or a compelling watch.
REVIEWED ON 2/23/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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