A father and daughter isolated on an island off the East Coast and living on a once-thriving commune grapple with the limits of family and sexuality.A father and daughter isolated on an island off the East Coast and living on a once-thriving commune grapple with the limits of family and sexuality.A father and daughter isolated on an island off the East Coast and living on a once-thriving commune grapple with the limits of family and sexuality.
Writer/director Rebecca Miller sets up an archetypal situation, of an isolated Utopian who thinks he can create and control a perfect living environment with his daughter.
Daniel Day Lewis makes him too sympathetic, particularly his Pyrrhic politics, while his character's nemeses are too simplistic, even as he finally is defeated by mortality and human nature, or perhaps what some theologians would consider original sin. Lewis as the dad is even more creepily naive than J. M. Barrie in "Finding Neverland" in wanting innocent children to never grow up, even while indulging his own adult needs.
As with "Personal Velocity," Miller well captures conversational dialog within broken families, particularly across genders, and she is uncannily good at giving us young and older teens, as puberty is presented here as a palpable enemy.
Beau Bridges's good old boy developer is an overly stereotyped builder of ticky tacky McMansions; it would have been more interesting if he was threatening the wetlands with solar powered, energy recycling houses.
The continuing image of poisonous snakes is a bit heavy-handed symbolism of women as the cause for the fall of Eden. While Miller in a Q & A at a showing at the Landmark Sunshine Theater in NYC said she was inspired by the Gnostic Gospels, I saw ironic parallels with Lot's daughters, who coming from Sodom and Gomorrah have much in common with this daughter of a failed commune. Camilla Belle is excellent as a girl who gradually, albeit a bit scarily, discovers her powers, and her male counterparts are very believable as kids with their own problems.
Most of the audience was disquietingly dissatisfied with the ending and coda of the film, so much of the questioning to Miller focused on those aspects, as she claimed they were not after-thoughts or revisions. But the writing and characterizations shown did not support the changes she claimed the characters had gone through to justify the denouement.
An interesting comparison can be made with "Off the Map" which also views an alternative life style through the eyes of a budding teen age girl, but whose family is held together by an earth mother.
The Dylan and other singer-songwriter selections on the soundtrack are very effective.
- Apr 4, 2005