This is a vivid portrait of Aaron Kurlander, a resourceful (some would say mercenary) adolescent growing up in the Depression who has to fend for himself when the chips are down -- and they are very rarely up. First his little brother is sent to live with relatives. Then his mother has to go into a sanitarium. Finally his father goes away to sell watches. You might expect this kind of story to turn maudlin, but writer/director Steven Soderbergh deals with it with an even hand, allowing us to get involved in Aaron's plight without sentimentalizing it.
Aaron is played with great spunk and imagination by Jesse Bradford, and he has considerable support from the likes of Jeroen Krabbe (who also appeared in Soderbergh's "Kafka"), Lisa Eichhorn, Karen Allen, Spalding Gray, Elizabeth McGovern and a young Adrien Brody. Special mention should also made of Soderbergh regular Joseph Chrest, perfectly cast as malevolent hotel porter Ben.
This is definitely one that is worth tracking down. And one hopes it will eventually get the DVD release it so richly deserves.
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