This debut feature from director Joseph Greco is the semi-autobiographical tale of a 10-year-old Florida boy, Chris (Devon Gearhart), who returns from a summer in Alaska to find his mentally ill mother (Marcia Gay Harden) hearing voices in the walls again and Dad (Joe Pantoliano) up to his neck in debts and distress. Poor Chris meanwhile is growing up, discovering a passion for sewing and puppy love with a cute girl at school (Sophia Bairley). When Mom is finally dragged off to the state hospital, Dad turns his energy towards building a sailboat, but that's still just a way for him to avoid spending time with Chris, who begins to cut class and get into fights.
Greco's script was obviously spruced up with input from the actors: they live and breathe these roles: Marcia Gay Harden is alternately sweet, scary, and sad as the mother, Pantoliano blends seamlessly into the role of a working class dad sanded smooth by domestic hardship, and newcomer Gearhart is aces in a surprisingly complex role; able to convey deep emotion behind a facade of stoic kid resolve, he sails the film cleanly past the rocks of contrivance and cliché and off into the sunset of first-class sensitive indie family drama. The beautiful photography wrings plenty of salt air and sunshine from the small-town Florida locale and there's a sweetener of a soundtrack with acoustic guitars and sad girl vocalists.
Fathers And Sons |
Mental Illness |
Theatrical Release |