Members of a dysfunctional family react differently to the suicide of the eldest son.Members of a dysfunctional family react differently to the suicide of the eldest son.Members of a dysfunctional family react differently to the suicide of the eldest son.
"Ordinary People" Meets "American Beauty" by way of "The Ice Storm"
Just what is it about the suburbs that have been portrayed as an American cousin to Norway's fjords in which nothing but despair, suicidal tendencies and infidelities run rampant at the corner of Angst and Anomie?
In the latest endeavor by Harris, a screenwriter who shared credit for the first "X-Men" film and several other comic book hero adaptations down the pike, makes his directorial debut questioning just that: Why does a family fall completely apart when a serious crisis occurs?
Well in the case of the Travis family it is the shocking, out-of-nowhere sudden horrific suicide by their eldest son Matt (Pardue), a star athlete with nothing but a bright, shiny future ahead who inexplicably offs himself sending his relatives into a whirlwind of emotions (and lack of to boot). Sharp tongued yet surprisingly loving mother Sandy (Weaver, the best thing about the film) resorts to smoking marijuana when she's not dodging the next door neighbor (O'Connell) ; ineffectual father Ben (Daniels in the trickiest performance making an asshole likable) whose undying love for his dead son sends him into the deepest depths of depression and lashes out at his remaining brood; college age sister Penny (Williams) who attempts to anchor her grief in brief return visits only to party with blinders on and namely middle son Tim (Hirsch) who just is trying to move on with the whole affair and not dwelling on it as best he can yet still getting himself into a series of situations leading to a fall he may not be able to recover from.
The black comic pitch Harris attempts to filter into the various stages of grief are a mixed bag but often leave their marks of ridiculous moments of suburban oddness with a few brief elements of genuine loss and heartbreak. Leavened with a good dose of humor the film none-the-less is a listless addition to the quasi -genre of suburban angst films.
- Dec 20, 2004