16 June 2006 | Rick NYC-2
Loverboy brilliantly lays parental love out on the table for all of us to observe in two of its twisted, unbalanced forms. The first is that of young Emily's parents, played sublimely by both director Kevin Bacon, and Marisa Tomei, who think that parenting consists of modeling love by bathing together with the door open and constantly cuddling in front of the child, as though she would be nurtured by having a pair of super-sexed hippie babysitters for guardians. The two are a riot, as is Sosie Bacon, playing with her real-life dad, a girl who sings a Bowie song in a school show in order to shock her parents into caring about her. These flashbacks are intricately woven together with the scenes of the adult Emily, played by Bacon's real wife, Kyra Sedgwick, as she raises her six-year-old Paul (Dominic Scott Kay) on her own, calling him Loverboy. Master Kay holds his own as the increasingly suffocated son, trying to escape his mother's web of the other kind of unbalanced love, being kept "safe" and "smart" and unsullied by society. We feel deeply for Paul, hoping that he will be allowed to stay in school as Emily descends heartbreakingly into madness, fearful that the school is poisoning her child. We pray that Matt Dillon, as a friendly fisherman, will be allowed to take Paul for a "boys only" fishing trip, but even then, the desperate Emily stands on the shore screaming at them to be safe while they're trying to have a few bonding moments together. The movie moves and looks like a dream, and like a dream, it has an explosive, cathartic ending that you have to wake up from. The Bacons in every way have put together a searing work of art, beautifully acted, shot and mounted, that should haunt anyone who can identify with its universally tragic themes.