When Did You Last See Your Father?

when-did-you-last-see-your-father

I have the chance to soak in the frenzy of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) these past few days in the big TO. The largest film fest in the world, this year TIFF offers over 300 films from 60 countries from September 6 to 15, a delectable smorgasbord for movie lovers . On Saturday, Sept. 8th at 7:00 pm, while the enthusiastic crowd gathered along the barricades outside the Elgin Theatre on Yonge Street, hoping to get a glimpse of Brad Pitt on the red carpet, I lined up patiently with a less boisterous group of ticket holders outside the same building an hour early to get into the Winter Garden Theatre for the premiere screening of When Did You Last See Your Father?

Based on the award-winning and highly acclaimed memoir written by British author Blake Morrison, WDYLSYF is a fine piece of artistry crafted by some of today’s top British talents. Director Anand Tucker’s work includes the Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning Hilary and Jackie (1998), and co-producing Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003), another Oscar nominee and numerous European film award winner. The stellar cast of WDYLSYF is led by Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth, playing father Arthur and son Blake Morrison, with strong supporting roles from Juliet Stevenson as the mother and newcomer Matthew Beard, who plays the teenage Blake.

When Did You Last See Your Father

The words “A True Story” in the opening credits prepared the audience for something real and meaningful. We were led to explore a multi-layered and poignant story about a fragile father-son relationship that is brought to the forefront at the father’s imminent death from cancer. Jim Broadbrent could well deserve an acting nomination as the ailing father, headstrong, overbearing, and ever the victor in whatever circumstances, even in the face of terminal illness. Colin Firth aptly portrays the middle-aged Blake, already an acclaimed writer and poet, yet still waiting to hear from his father the two precious words he has longed for all his life: “well done”.

Intense but not draining, the director effectively sprinkles enough comic relief at the right moments to move the story along with poignancy but steers the viewers away from sentimentality. I always think that Colin Firth excels in subtle, understated acting, his every gaze speaks volume. Here again he has shown once more that he is a master of this craft.

However, I must admit that Matthew Beard, a first time film actor who plays the teenage Blake shines with his natural and superb performance, bringing out the love/hate sentiments he has harboured towards his father from the various situations he has been pushed into, such as the reluctant camping trip, the impromptu driving lesson, the numerous embarrassment and even public humiliation he has suffered from his father’s brash and insensitive comments…but above all, from the burden he has to bear as a witness to the wrongs of his own parent.

The restrained acting by the stellar cast effectively conveys the pathos and conflicting family relationships as well as the ambivalence of a son trying to come to terms with resentment towards a callous, egotistic, and dying father. Firth’s subtle characterization of the adult Blake poignantly portrays the crux of his torments. It is a painful relief at the end of the movie when he realizes that sometimes one has to resolve anger and disappointment on one’s own, unilaterally, including the most difficult discipline, forgiveness and the letting go. If the victim has forgiven, should the witness keeps on holding grudges? There’s no simple answer, and the film has successfully dealt with such conflicts through the multi-layered characterization and the reflective shots through mirrors in many scenes.

Filmed mostly on location in beautiful Derbyshire, England, the movie’s inspiring cinematography works like a soothing balm, together with the light-hearted and nostalgic childhood scenes, the film is an enjoyable visual treat. Again, such is the real portrayal of the issues we face, natural beauty can sometimes offset the darker side of human nature. Humour and pathos can co-exist.

A bonus in going to film festival screening is the chance to hear the makers of the movie reflect on their work. The audience was pleasantly surprised to see the director Anand Tucker and actor Jim Broadbent come on stage to answer questions after the movie. Listening to them, I felt that I’d only discovered the outer layer of a very complex and pleasurable artifact that I wanted to see the movie all over again.

And so I did two days later.

~ ~ ~ Ripples

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To read my review of the book And When Did You Last See Your Father? Click here.

Memorable Movie Quotes

CLICK HERE to an even more updated post: QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM DOWNTON ABBEY, dated March 23, 2012.

For an update of this post, a newer version on the theme of love, click here.  Again, you’re most welcome to contribute to the list there.

Many movie lovers are fond of collecting, mentally at least, memorable movie quotes.  They might watch a movie a few times, savor their favorite dialogues, might even memorize them and use them in their daily conversation.  For others, certain movie quotes ring so true in their depiction of life, love, loss or lust, that they’d treasure them as commentary of their own experiences, or maybe even adopt them as credo for their life.

What’s interesting is, as these words are quoted out of context, they can still conjure up images from the movies, or elicit the particular sentiments that we had when we were watching the film.  This is the power of story-telling when accompanied by visual images, edging in our minds meaningful thoughts and unforgettable sentiments.

I suppose every movie lover has his/her own favorite movie quotes.  Here are some just to tap into that subconscious, hidden repertoire of your movie quotient. First the easy ones, the more recognizable quotes.  Can you tell which movies they are from:

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* We’ll always have Paris.

* If you build it, he will come.

* After all, tomorrow is another day.

* Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

* Life’s a box of chocolates…You never know what you’re gonna get.

Easy?  Now try these more obscure ones, but just as memorable nonetheless:

* You look stupid and rich…I’m smart and poor.

* I like you very much…just as you are.

* We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.

* I gotta keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise.  Who knows what the tide could bring?

* Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

* My life is made up of units of time. Buying CDs – two units. Eating lunch – three units. Exercising – two units.  All in all, I  had a very full life.  It’s just that it didn’t mean anything.

Hey, I just thought it would be a good idea to hear from movie lovers what their personal favorite quotes are.  Let’s hear from you all. Send in your memorable movie quotes in the “Comment” section.  Let’s have a Memorable Movie Quotes Fair!

Stranger Than Fiction

 

“Stranger Than Fiction” (2006)–I always believe that the script is probably the most important element in a movie. If you’ve nothing to say, you’ve got nothing to show, and no story to tell. This may well be an oversimplification. However, watching Stranger Than Fiction, I felt my view confirmed.

The excellent writing by Zach Helm handles a serious subject with style and humor. Reminiscence of “The Truman Show”, “Stranger Than Fiction” is a fresh and classy treatment of the existential questions of free will and fate. Will Ferrell is Harold Crick, an IRS agent. He lives by himself, eats by himself, and his favorite word is ‘integer’. Every morning, he counts the same number of strokes as he brushes his teeth, ties his tie in exactly the same number of seconds, takes exactly the same number of steps to catch his bus. His daily routine runs like clockwork…and he thinks he is in control of the minutest item of his life.

His secure, mundane world is turned upside down one day as he finds out that his life is being narrated, written by someone else. He is in fact a character in a novel, and what’s most devastating is, the author (Emma Thompson) is planning his imminent death. Sunddenly faced with his own impending demise, Harold Crick curses his fate, yells at heaven and protests in vain. Poor Harold is certainly not ready to die, for he hasn’t even begun to live. With the help of a literature professor, aptly played by Dustin Hoffman, Harold tries to turn a tragedy into a comedy. He soon finds out that although he cannot change his own fate, he can change himself, and he can become a happier person if he chooses to be, despite his ominous fate. In the baker (Maggie Gyllenhaal) whom he audits, he discovers for the first time in his life, love. Little does he know that this new found sentiment is a powerful force that has altered his myopic view so much that in an act of altruistic bravery, he steps right in the path of death and stares fate in the eye.

The message of the movie and the subject matters of life and death, fate and free will can easily be perceived as didactic and preachy if not being handled properly, but “Stranger Than Fiction” has successfully dealt with these issues with light-hearted humor and intelligent dialogues and characterization. Overall, an entertaining work of fiction, or, is it a whimsical portrayal of real life? … Strange, they’re so similar.

~~~3 Ripples

Josh Groban Awake in Calgary

Josh Groban Awake in Calgary

The finale of my summer of indulgence came with a bang. August 15 is going to be a memorable date. Close to 20,000 of us at the Pengrowth Saddledome, home to the Calgary Flames hockey team, witnessed an electrifying concert brimming with talents. Everyone who had a part in the production of the show, from the set design, the sound, the visual and stage effects, the arrangement of the music, to the performance on stage, had demonstrated superfluous expertise in putting together such a show. It was a non-stop, 2 hours of pure entertainment and inspiration.

The concert “Awake” was opened by “You Are Loved” (Don’t Give Up), with Groban rising to the challenge, literally, from beneath the stage to appear in a charismatic presence, to the cheers of a long-awaiting audience. Yes, over an hour had passed since we’d settled in our seats, the first 40 minutes listening to a spirited West African band led by Kidjo, the several-times Grammy nominee. Well prepped and roused up for the main event, the audience was left waiting for another 25 minutes. As soon as the curtain opened I realized it was all worth it. The initial attraction was the tastful and grandeur stage design, and the corresponding video and lighting in the background, as well as movable lighted panels above for added effects. Groban was backed by a 15-member orchestra, a 6-piece band, and at the front, on one side, cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith, and the other , violinist Lucia Micarelli.

Other numbers from the album Awake soon followed, including “Mai”, “So She Dances”, “Machine”… But it was “Un Giorno Per Noi”, the adapted theme “A Time For Us” from the movie Romeo and Juliet that convinced the audience early on that it was going to be an unforgetable night. We were spellbound by Cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith’s introduction and accompaniment to the piece. Watching her play answers the question: “Why go to concerts when you can listen to the CD, or your iPod?” You go to a concert to see music in-the-making; you experience the sights and sounds and excitement of a massive conglomeration of talents displayed in producing the sounds you hear on your electronic device. Last night, all 20,000 of us were witnessing art-in-progress. In the same way, Lucia Micarelli’s solo rendition leading to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” was electrifying. She transformed the music into a visual fusion of exuberant energy and poetic dance.

It was a much more mature, confident, and relaxed Groban last night since his last concert in Calgary three years ago, commanding the stage with his energetic prance from one end to the other, without compromising the quality of his vocal deliverance. Always a crowd pleaser, but last night Groban showed a more mature side than the “every-mother’s-dream-son” image. Yes, he’s still that clean, wholesome, good humored, and gorgeous looking young man with a mesmerizing and powerful voice. On top of that, Groban also showed he has a social conscience. As clips of his visit to South Africa’s impoverished Soweto area were shown, with his cheering on the local children’s dance and songs, meeting the historical figure Nelson Mandela, he appealed to his concert audience to support the children charities projected on the giant screen.

“I am not a hero, I am not an angel, I am just a man…” as the lyrics from “In Her Eyes” were sung, Groban was spotlighted at the back of the dome weaving his way in through the enthusiastic crowd, touching the eager, out-stretched hands from both female and male audience. I know, Groban’s good guy persona irritates some, and turning away those who see being cool as being foul. He’s even been criticized for being ‘conservative’. But tell it to this crowd of thousands who paid up to $125 to see him, seems like ‘conservatism’ is alive and well.

Later on, Groban also demonstrated his versatility in several numbers in which he played the piano and the drums, like “Remember When It Rained”, and “Canto Alla Vita”, from his previous albums. The evening ended with a few encores, including the satisfying “You Raise Me Up” and a new piece that has not been recorded on CD.  This is the success of a singer performer, you don’t need to know a song to enjoy it.

Don’t get me wrong, the concert was not without flaws. In several places the lower registers seemed to pose some voice projection glitches for Groban. And towards the end physical exhaustion appeared to affect his act. All in all, such shortfalls paled in comparision to the whole night’s captivating performance. To the critics who may have deleted words synonymous with ‘wholesome’ from their dictionary, I’m glad mine has just a few more words. A most memorable concert experience.

~~~~ 4 Ripples

Photo Source: Sun Media

Summer of Indulgence

In the July 23, 2007 issue of TIME magazine, an article surveyed several prominent writers as to what guilty pleasures they would indulge in if they were to follow their heart’s desire in their summer reading. Jane Smiley chose an erotica/sadist novel, Magaret Drabble would read Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Alexander McCall Smith selected Dick Francis, and Joyce Carol Oates opted for Mad Magazine.

Just wondering, what movies would they have chosen to watch, if Dick Francis and Jules Verne are considered guilty pleasure? As for me, watching old movies that I missed some time in my past, and there are a lot, became my summer indulgence. Guilty pleasure? Don’t think I need to feel guilty about them, however, they do represent a quirky and offbeat sort. Here they are, with my hindsight critique…now flashback to:

1986  Pretty in Pink


Why I missed out on preppy movies like this one, I haven’t a clue. But, it’s more than just nostalgic viewing them now. Why, because I’m discovering for the first time Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, and, yes, James Spader in his youthful days. The power of young love driven by hormonal surge and pure fantasy or infactuation could still be no match for societal norms and peer pressure. Rich boy, poor girl, two starcrossed lovers separated by a mere railway track, a demarkation of social inequality in wealth, opportunities, future…Oh, we’ve seen them before, in the classic Love Story, and the like. But it’s always a treat looking at young, fresh faces like McCarthy and Ringwald, and … Spader… who cares he looks like he’s been repeating his senior year in high school a few times. If it’s a miscast, it doesn’t bother me a bit, because watching Pretty in Pink is like licking a strawberry ice cream cone on a hot summer day, it’s indulgence enough.

1987  Less Than Zero


McCarthy and Spader reprised the next year to make this movie, but this time, Robert Downey Jr. stole the show. Less Than Zero probably is one of the classic drug addiction movies. The story takes place again, among the decadent world of rich, young Californian high school grads. McCarthy, a college freshman came home after his first term of college to find his buddy RDJ helplessly hooked on cocaine and deeply in debt. Together with his girlfriend Gertz, who has shifted her attention to RDJ since he left, McCarthy tried to rescue his friend from his pathetic downfall. This time, Spader acted more like his age, as a slick and manipulative drug dealer. Watching a young man self-destruct was not an enjoyable experience. The pleasure in watching this movie though is that one sees the pivotal performance of a superb actor hitting his stride and gaining momentum in his career. As one critic said, this movie put RDJ on the map. Compared to Maggie Cheung in Clean, which I reviewed some time ago, RDJ comes out a much stronger contender.

1996  2 Days in the Valley

This is what I call indulgence, three Spader movies in a row. This one is a much more interesting mix of characters. Watching it reminds me of “Crash” (2004) where a group of seemingly unattached characters would finally be strung together as the story unfolds, coming to a brilliant and climatic ending. But of course, 2DITV is not Crash, it does not convey a serious message like racism, it just…purely…entertains, pure summer fun. What do a mild-mannered hit man, a female Olympic skier, a snobbish art dealer, a cold blooded killer, a loving widow, a down-and-out movie director, and two vice cops have in common? They don’t, and this is exactly what the movie is saying, hauntingly. 48 hours in the San Fernando Valley, CA, could bring about a lot of changes in these lives. We cross paths with people who may have nothing to do with our lives every day, and yet as circumstances unfold, we are entangled into a web of human relations and coincidents. Our best bet is to take the right step, at least that we can have some control. The superb acting and the intricate plot make it a fun and wild ride. As the saying goes, this movie puts Charlize Theron on the map. Spader as a bespectacled, icy, heartless killer? Seeing is believing. Great summer viewing pleasure.

1997  The Ice Storm

I think this is probably my favorite Ang Lee movies, so far.  The Ice Storm, a story about the dysfunctional relationships within two families in 1973 suburban Conneticut, was Ang Lee’s attempt to prove his versatility after making the 19th Century Austen classic Sense and Sensibility. He has painted a sensitive and poignant portrait of suburban living, or anywhere living, of people struggling to deal with the ennui of superficial existence. Adults exchange spouses as a game, the young seek sexual experiences, or experiment with drugs. Like a fly hitting the window again and again as it frantically tries to escape, the characters in this movie spin deeper and deeper into a meaningless blackhole. That is, until the Ice Storm cometh. It takes the elements, something greater than themselves, to shake them up and have them face the futility of their actions, leading them to a stark awakening. Such is the redemptive power of the Ice Storm, a metaphor for divine intervention, marking the turning point in the lives of these characters. A great cast including Joan Allen, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, and Elijah Wood makes this film an enjoyable treat, despite the serious subject matter.

Curse of the Golden Flower

Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)–The story took place in 928 A.D., during the Tang Dynasty in China; the movie was produced in 2006, released in January, 2007. Over a thousand years have passed, and times sure have changed the art of storytelling. What Zhang Yimou has constructed is a postmodern fusion of literary classics and cinematic productions: King Lear, Hamlet, MacBeth, Caligula, The Lord of the Rings, and yes, even Braveheart, concocted in a Chinese imperial court setting. Those with the appetite for a smorgasboard will not be disappointed to find something that they like, but COTGF is no gourmet cuisine. Zhang has aptly depicted the decadence behind the facade of opulence and glamour with his trademark exaggerated colours in cinematography. Under the skin of gold and jade hides the rotten flesh of incest, treason, deceit, murder, and rebellion; but one begs to ask, so what’s the difference between this story and others throughout history, or even just movie history? Hailed as the most expensive movie ever produced in China, Zhang seemed to have answered with the massive visual effects of a thousand real life, spear wielding actors in armour (plus the additional help of computer-generated images I assume), swarming the palace gates as ants, the elaborate set designs, and the choreography of uniformity, from the female courtiers to the massive foot soldiers. One gets the feeling that the movie is a spectacle made for foreign markets, and with Zhang himself being the chief director of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, COTGF seems like a dry run for the programs. Nevertheless, kudos go to the actors whose intense performances have supported the storytelling, and newcomer singer-turned-actor Jay Chou has held his ground in front of veterans Gong and Chow. The ironic outcome though is that the intimate, authentic art of storytelling has been overshadowed by the sights and sounds of ostentatious movie-making.

~~1/2 Ripples

The Painted Veil

 The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil (2006)– In contrast to my review of Away From Her (Posted May 22), this is one movie I’m afraid I’ve to say, ‘words are mightier than the scenes’.  Not that I don’t appreciate the great cinematography, the angle, lighting, and the depth of many of the frames in presenting a very appealing piece of cinema artistry, but somehow, I don’t feel for the characters and empathize with their situations as much as when I was reading the novel by William Somerset Maugham. The characters seem to have lost their complexity, the plot thins out and the resolution seems too instant. I miss some great lines in the book that seem to have been unfortunately cut out in the screenplay.

I’ve always enjoyed reading Maugham’s writing, Of Human Bondage, The Razor’s Edge, The Painted Veil as well as his short stories.  However, movie making is a totally different art form and business venture from book writing and publishing.  Finding the key to transform one to the other remains a unique quest for each project.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed other Maugham’s work in film, such as Being Julia (2004), and quite like Up At The Villa (2000), but not as excited about The Razor’s Edge (1984), and now The Painted Veil (2006).  Transforming great lines from a book into equally inspiring visual story-telling is an arduous task, and it’s something that mere beautiful cinematography cannot suffice.  Nevertheless, I do applaud Edward Norton in his undertaking this difficult assignment…I’m sure shooting a movie in China poses its particular challenges.  I’d love to see more Maugham writing turn into films, and wish more contemporary versions can be made…maybe a modern day Of Human Bondage?

~~ 1/2 Ripples

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Brooks (2007)– What a departure from his past filmography! Mr. Brooks is Kevin Costner’s attempt to cross the great divide, from the heroic and noble to the villainous, from Eliot Ness, Mafia annihilator to Earl Brooks, serial killer. Wait, did he cross that divide or has he got one foot on each side, straddling in a precarious position with shifting identity? Maybe that’s the point this movie is trying to get across. Mr. Brooks is a successful businessman, philanthropist, loving husband and father, and at the same time, serial killer. What an interesting theme to explore, but ironically, the purpose seems to be marred by the attempts at making it work. The film itself is a schizophrenic struggle between classic Hitchcockian psychological thriller and dark humor with a contemporary flare, thanks to comedian Dane Cook fanning the flame. William Hurt’s role as Brooks’ alter ego also is both effective and self-defeating. At times he is the tempter, at other times he is the companion and friend, still other times he is the clairvoyant, predicting the future…Seems like he too has crossed that line from reality to fantasy. The action sequence though is crisp and captivating, particularly in the kidnapping scene of detective Tracy Atwood, played by Demi Moore. Unfortunately, the intersection of Costner and Moore is a story line that the film fails to dwell into, one that could enhance both character development and certainly thicken the plot. Such lack is compensated by the twists in the story, and the ending is thought provoking. Mr. Costner, nice try at being nasty, but somehow your look and demeanor betray your attempt. This movie makes me appreciate all the more the many heroic and redemptive roles you have played in the past. Having said that, I look forward to the new turn of film making you’re venturing out into and I must say, for love of the game, go for it.

~~1/2 Ripples

Away From Her

away-from-her

Update Jan. 28, 2008:  Julie Christie has just won the Screen Actors Guild’s Best Actress Award for her role in Away From Her.

Update Jan. 22, 2008: Julie Christie has just been nominated for a Best Actress Award and Sarah Polley for Best Adapted Screenplay in today’s Oscar Nominations announcement.

Away From Her (2006)–How can you make a good short story even better? … By turning it into a screenplay written by an equally sensitive and passionate writer, and then, through her own talented, interpretive eye, re-creates it into a visual narrative. Along the way, throw in a few veteran actors who are so passionate about what the script is trying to convey that they themselves embody the message. Such ‘coincidents’ are all happening in the movie Away From Her. Sarah Polley has made her directorial debut with a most impressive and memorable feat that I’m sure things will go even better down her career path. What she has composed on screen speaks much more poignantly than words on a page, calling forth sentiments that we didn’t even know we had. Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent stir up thoughts in us that we’d rather bury: how much are we willing to give up for love, or, how would we face the imminence of our loved ones’ and our own mental and physical demise. Based on the story by Alice Munro, ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain’, Polley brings out the theme of unconditional love not by your typical Hollywood’s hot, young, and sexy on screen, but aging actors in their 60’s and 70’s. It may not be as pleasurable to watch wrinkled faces hugging and kissing, or a man and a woman in bed, bearing age spots and all, but such scenes effectively beg the question: why feel uncomfortable? Why does love has to be synonymous with youth, beauty, and romance? It is even more agonizing to watch how far Grant is willing to go solely for love of Fiona. Lucky for us, both writers spare us the truly painful at the end. It is through persistent, selfless giving that one ultimately receives; and however meager and fleeting that reward may seem, it is permanence in the eyes of love. And it is through the lucid vision of a youthful, 28-year-old writer/director, that such ageless love is vividly portrayed….Oh, the paradoxes in life.

~~~ 3 Ripples

(Photo Source: Guardian.co.uk)


Notes on a Scandal

Notes On A Scandal (2006)– Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett have garnered many accolades for their performance in this movie, and I must say well deserved. But I’d just like to give a fair share of credits to Phillip Glass, the minimalist composer. His torrents of symphonic upheavals and tidal waves of nerve wrecking themes effectively create the momentum, sweeping our emotions along the way. Without the music, we would be just watching the flesh without the soul, motion without feelings. Loneliness can be the most powerful potion. It can wreak devastation, bringing destruction to self and others, yet strangely, it can also drive one to seek redemption, as Dench and Blanchett have shown us so powerfully these two scenarios. Kudos also to Bill Nighy, who may well be the ultimate victim of this tragic betrayal. The road to redemption is paved with forgiveness. The construction of which begins with his opening the door and letting his wife back in. After all the tension, I feel relieved to see such a resolution. In contrast, the note of perpetual malice in the final scene resonates in me a most disturbing chord.

~~~3 Ripples

Clean

Clean (2004)– Who am I to disagree with the Cannes Jurors, who gave Maggie Cheung (the ex of Olivier Assayas, director of this movie) the Best Actress Award for her role in this movie, but I just find her portrayal of a drug addict a bit forced. To be truthful, I don’t personally know any heroin addicts, what they should look like is just a constructed image in my mind, although I’m trying my utmost to avoid stereotyping. But, the look of untainted facial features, the smooth and delicate skin, the bright round eyes, the funky hairdo, yes, understandably so with her profession as a recording artist, but still, she is a bit too fresh in looks and demeanor. They say that some actors study and research their role before the actual filming. I just wonder whether she has done any homework. Compared to Charlize Theoron in Monster (2003), it’s easy to find something’s missing here. Yes, it could well be the makeup artist’s fault, but the inner turmoil is lacking. Somehow, none of the characters succeeded to elicit any empathy from me….not even the child….except maybe Nick Nolte…now he has played his role sensitively as a grandfather who’s left with a burden greater than he could bear. As for the plot, I was looking for some sort of a twist but none came. So, if the story is the straight forward (I’m not saying it’s easy) transformation of a life, towards some sort of self-redemptive ending, then good casting and in-depth character development are essential. Short of that, the effect would be too clean to be convincing.

~~2 Ripples