In the movie Shadowlands, there’s a line that goes like this: “We read to know we are not alone.” I think it applies to watching movies as well.
I’m glad somebody thinks the every day family life worthy of movie material. Nothing spectacular or heroic, nonetheless difficult and to some, a struggle. This is especially true when it comes to the so called sandwich generation, adult children who needs to care for their elderly parents as well as their own children. Caught in the middle, parents to both. In the midst of daily challenges, there remains the key relationship, the meat in the sandwich if you will, that which is between husband and wife, and always, the bare essence of a person and his/her integrity. Herein lies the ingredients of the story.
Screened at the Calgary International Film Festival last night, the indie dramedy stars Liev Schreiber and Helen Hunt as a NYC couple, Ned and Jeannie. Their marriage faces a testing turn as Jeannie, driven by guilt and responsibility, brought her recently widowed father home to stay. Ernie (Brian Dennehy) is not just any grumpy old man. He is wheelchair confined, in ill health, and utterly bitter about everything and with everyone. Jeannie is stressed out as she keeps pace just to live every single day.
Ned too has his share of problems at work. As a scriptwriter for a seedy TV series, he has to meet the perverted demands of his boss Garrett (Eddie Izzard) to churn out scripts that are beneath his style. To solve the problem he is assigned to work with a flirtatious colleague Robin (Carla Gugino) to rewrite something more daring and less boring. Ned is tempted to do exactly that not only in his script.
And for their sons, they may look alright, but both yearn for direction and care just the same. 15 year-old Jonah (Ezra Miller) has just come out and is heading towards some risky friendship. The younger one Ethan (Skyler Fortgang), though talented, has to deal with a defeating self-image. Amidst their own problems, Ned and Jeannie try to be good parents, loving yet setting limits, albeit finding a happy medium is hard to do.
Though not meant to be a serious film, it does touch on two thought-provoking questions implied by two unlikely characters. From Robin the seducer: Is a marriage finished when the ‘fun’ is over? Similarly from Ernie the bitter old man: Should a life be ended when there is no happiness?
With subject matters as such, sitting through Every Day could be a gloomy ordeal. But as a fusion of comedy and drama, it has come through to me as an enjoyable film. Written and directed by Richard Levine of the TV series “Nip/Tuck” fame, Every Day could seem episodic. But the fast scene changes keeps the momentum going and the subplots clear. Liev Schreiber is convincing as the family man in mid-life crisis. Brian Dennehy is a veteran and spot on in his performance. The boys are alright. I have enjoyed Helen Hunt the most. Her precarious roles of mother, wife, and daughter have resonated with me. It has been three years since her directorial debut Then She Found Me. I look forward to more of her works in the coming year.
Every Day premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC this April. During the Q & A after the screening, Schreiber mentioned that the film is “a simple story and simple stories are often overlooked.” Somebody has to make simple films like this, and somebody has to watch them. I was one of the lucky ones last night at the CIFF.
~ ~ ~ Ripples
Photo Source: myveronanj.com