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  • I rented this on DVD and am wondering why they took out the Additional Scenes in the movie that are on the Special Features. I was hoping there would be some interviews on the DVD, but alas, had to settle for just the Additional Scenes.

    This movie has typical Lifetime TV earmarks, but with a lot more to give. I was especially impressed with Miles Heizer in his role of the young boy. It is a good story that gives both character insight angles of the victim and the accidental killer. I applaud the casting done here. Kevin Bacon's role was perhaps the best choice to play this particularly difficult part, and he conveyed/portrayed it very well. I can't think of any other actor who could have pulled it off.

    The emotional dramas did cause me to pull out some hankies, but they did not dwell on this content in an overdone fashion. I am weary of movies that linger on with many scenes of someone dying in bed of cancer (which was not done at all in a great movie "Who Will Love My Children"), but they kept the IV drip bit scenes to a tolerable minimum. The tears were not associated so much to the cancer bit, but was with how the story was put together ... very, very well done.

    This young 14-year-old lad, Miles Heizer, is a gem and I really hope to see more of him performing in more films. This movie I recommend when you're in an emotional mood of viewing pleasure. It's definitely worth the rental fee.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Rails and Ties is a sweetly sad little tearjerker that doesn't let a fairly implausible story stop it from being legitimately moving. It's living proof that the characters you care the most about are the ones who can be imperfect and unlikable at times.

    Tom Stark (Kevin Bacon) is a railroad engineer. He's one of these guys whose job defines everything about him. And now, Tom's job has become a shelter from the pain of seeing breast cancer return for a third time in his wife Megan (Marcia Gay Hardin). This time it's gotten into the bone and there's nothing that can be done. But while Tom seeks refuge from Megan's illness running the train from Simi Valley to Seattle, the profound troubles of another woman reach out for him. The mentally unwell Laura Danner (Bonnie Root) loads her son Davey (Miles Heizer) into their car and parks it on the tracks in front of Tom's train. As Davey struggles to pull his suicidal mother to safety, Tom makes a terrible choice. Rather than hit the emergency break and risk the lives of all his passengers by sending the train off the rails, Tom lets it plow right through the car.

    His mother dead, Davey is placed into a foster home, which he promptly runs away from and sets out to find Tom. Just as Megan is about to leave Tom and spend her final days doing all the things Tom won't do with her, Davey shows up at their house. After an initial explosion of anger, the lonely and grief-stricken boy finds himself clinging to Megan and Tom as the only things he was left in the world. To Megan, Davey becomes the son she never had. To Tom, he's a bridge back to Megan's love, a love that became frozen in anger and fear and resentment. This new family, born out of one tragedy and silently marching toward another, finds joy and hope in each other that they could never find in themselves.

    I have to admit upfront that the whole "kid's mother gets killed and he becomes like a son to the guy who killed her" is a bit hard to swallow. I'm no headshrinker, but that strikes me as a wildly unhealthy situation that would not lead to anything heartfelt. It would more likely lead to someone getting stabbed in the heart.

    If you're willing to go along with the premise, however, Rails and Ties is a lovely tale. Primarily that's due to the fine work of Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Hardin. They're both excellent as a husband and wife that have been worn out by cancer. Bacon portrays Tom as a man who can only deal with such an awful situation by shutting down emotionally. Hardin lets us see Megan as a woman who's turned inward because she hasn't been able to get anything she needs from her husband in a long time. You can tell that Tom and Megan used to love each other but are now held together only by the memory of that affection. And what makes these performances work is that Bacon and Hardin are willing to give them an unsympathetic edge. Tom's refusal to acknowledge things that make him uncomfortable leads him to act like a jerk. Megan's selfish disgust with Tom's stony exterior prevents her from being just a poor victim. Tom still loves her and Megan knows that, but at the beginning of the story she simply doesn't care anymore. Those elements of unvarnished humanity prevent this film from wallowing in syrupy melodrama.

    Director Alison Eastwood also shows that she's got her father's firm and unadorned directorial eye. There's nothing particularly flashy about what she does here, but she manages to give a different look and feel to the same sort of moments and scenes we've all seen in other films like this. By disdaining the most emotionally manipulative storytelling styles and techniques, Eastwood imbues this movie with a sense of reality that creeps its way into your heart and doesn't wash you away in a flood of artificial sentiment.

    Now, Miles Heizer isn't terrible as Davey but he's not one of these freakish child actors that blows you away on screen. He doesn't really have the depth that this role calls for at times, which is probably a good thing for him personally. Child actors capable of such emotional range tend to have some difficulties growing into adults. Yeah, I'm looking at you Edward Furlong and Haley Joel Osment.

    If you want to have yourself a good cry and not feel ashamed at how easily and crudely a movie tricked you into it, watch Rails and Ties. I'm not much one from having my heart strings tugged, but this film played me like a ukulele.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Just saw this film last night at a screening. I was neither cast nor crew, just a friend of a friend with no biases. I didn't know quite what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. It's an emotional film -- not always pretty -- with characters so believable that I empathized with their problems immediately. The set-up is completely original -- suicide by train has become common, but I've never seen a film that's explored how an engineer (or pilot, for that matter) deals with the aftermath of being behind the controls in this situation and feeling culpable. The relationship between Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden is so real, so natural, that I almost felt I was intruding their private world. The entire film rang true for me. Marcia Gay Harden's portrayal of a terminally ill woman wasn't hokey (or yuk, saintlike) but subtle and complex. When she and Bacon's character unofficially "adopt" the suicidal mother's little boy for several days, to satisfy Harden's unfulfilled maternal instinct, the characters motivations and actions totally make sense. I'd see this movie again.
  • As "Rails and Ties" opens, locomotive engineer Tom Stark (Kevin Bacon) is having the kind of day most of us wouldn't wish on our own worst enemy; his 41-year-old wife, Megan (Marcia Gay Harden), has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and a mentally ill young mother has committed suicide by parking her car directly in the path of the train he is conducting. As is customary in such cases, Tom is put on temporary suspension pending an investigation of the crash. He also has to come to terms with the imminent loss of his wife, who laments the fact that the couple never had a child and that she will die without ever having truly lived. Meanwhile, the dead woman's 11-year-old son, Davey (Miles Heizer), who has miraculously escaped the tragedy (it was intended as a murder/suicide), seeks Tom out to confront him about running over his mother, but stays to find a surrogate family of sorts with Tom and Megan - with all the messy legal ramifications that that entails.

    Needless to say, given the plot as outlined above, "Rails and Ties" isn't exactly designed to be a passel of upbeat fun. Still, those with a taste for serious, thoughtful, humanistic dramas will find much to cherish in this film. The Micky Levy screenplay focuses, primarily, on the complex marital relationship of Tom and Megan, as they struggle with why Tom has never been able to fully commit himself to either the marriage or the prospect of being a father.

    Given all the various tragic elements that meet up in this single drama, the movie could easily have become awash in sentimentality and bathos. Instead, the subtlety and restraint of Alison Eastwood's direction, along with the richly understated performances (especially by Harden), keep the suds from rising too much to the surface. The result is a movie that deals authentically and truthfully with some highly unorthodox and rather touchy subject matter. "Rails and Ties" may pluck on the heartstrings a little too freely at times, but the tears and throat lumps it elicits are, for the most part, honestly earned.
  • I know very little of this movie until I saw it. All I know is that it's about a railroad engineer and his wife who's suffering from cancer. There's another element in the movie that I didn't know about until I saw the movie and it's about a young boy who has a troubled mother. Somehow the lives of the couple and the young boy would intersect literally and tragically. All this sounds like a melodrama from the 1930s. And in many ways it is, but it also has a brutal frankness in it that the 1930s movies didn't have.

    The movie stars Kevin Bacon as the train engineer and his wife played by Marcia Gay Harden, we could see that there's a riff in their marriage. He would much rather work than spend time with his wife even though his boss is telling him he could have some time off. She doesn't understand why he's being so distant. It's obvious he's burying himself in work as she faces a dire future. This part of the movie is very frank as we see the despondency both have.

    The other element in the movie is the boy played by Miles Heizer. He has a troubled mother, it's obvious he has become the adult in the relationship. He enters the engineer's world angrily and he blamed the engineer for the death of his mother. The engineer's wife would take pity on him and soon he finds himself staying with them. Somehow the tragedy that took the boy's mother would bring something that the boy has never had and the couple thought they lost.

    It's really a simple melodrama but it has a frankness in it that they would never consider in the 1930s. One unforgettable scene is when she looked at herself in the mirror and see the scar cancer has left and breaks down, while he was on the other side of the door not knowing what to do. During one argument he blurts out angrily "Because You had cancer", it sounds as if he were angry at her. Obviously he's angry at the disease for what it has taken away from him, the possibility of children and now his wife. Also when the boy was crying out blaming himself for the death of those he love. It's very honest and frank how children sometime blame themselves for things they do not understand.

    Credit and blame goes to both the writer Mickey Levy and director Allison Eastwood created a group of characters who are very complex and are facing difficult situations but then it spirals into sentimentality. The story of the engineer and his wife by itself is powerful then add the story of the boy trying to go on with his life and understand what's going on would make the movie even more powerful but when the two story is combined it became too sentimental.

    Miss Eastwood's directing style is very similar to that of her father, tell the story in a straightforward way and get out of the way of the actors, The acting is superb, it's obvious that both Mr. Bacon and Miss Harden are very good actors but young Mr. Heizer proves too that he has talent. He's definitely a young talent to keep an eye on.

    All in all I think it's a good modern melodrama but with the frankness of modern times but then it spiraled into an almost shameless, unabashed treacle.
  • I really liked this movie even though it made me cry so much that I had a headache. Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden and Miles Heizer made me believe that I was looking into their lives and Alison Eastwood's direction clearly had something to do with that. The script however was very unbelievable. But then again, does it really matter? When I turn to movies, I want to escape reality because reality is not that great (at least mine isn't). I'm not saying that I enjoy crying but I enjoy a movie that can bring me into their world and, for 100 or so minutes, I did not, for one second, think of my world. So I, for one, will look forward to seeing more from Alison Eastwood!
  • Maybe some say this is a typical "woman movie". I'd not say so, but there surely is a tendency towards women more appreciating it than the men. It's not, however, much of a love story, it's a rather bittersweet tale with ASTONISHING ACTORS from A to Z.

    It's a movie that makes you feel human. You'll most probably shed some tears and laugh at some of the subtle jokes, some will do so more than others, but all in all it's not a dramatic hell rise like in BREAKING THE WAVES, though Bacon's character surely is a guy you'd like to kick in the butt just to 'wake up' or something. But then, the end comes.

    I can recommend that if you're out for a softer, heart-felt DVD experience.
  • To often humans seek out comfort in the embrace of another. It's natural and necessary if we want to remain human. However, the price we pay is terrible when giving our love to parents, loved ones and close friends. In addition, tragic events add to our loss when inexplicably we lose those who are close to us. This film encompasses such a tragic loss when Tom Stark (Kevin Bacon) is at the controls of his train when Laura Danner (Bonnie Root), a suicidal mother parks her car upon the tracks and awaits death with her son. Despite his best efforts, Stark is unable to prevent the accident. The woman is killed and her son Davey Danner (Miles Heizer) blames her death on the engineer. With the accident troubling his mind, Stark is further burdened with his ailing wife who is dying of cancer. In addition, Davey becomes an orphan, sent to a foster home from which he runs away from and seeks refuge with Stark and (Marcia Harden) his sickly wife. The story is deeply complex and extremely ladened with anxiety, conflicting emotion and troubling situations. It attempts to intertwine both family understanding and compassion grief. Although Kevin Bacon is superb in his acting and is ably supported by Miles who is equally great, some selected scenes are slow to develop, morosely dark and too often the audience is hampered with confused and poorly directed endings. Nevertheless, the story is awash with deep feelings and emotional surges which confront human beings everyday. ***
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the first directorial effort of Allison Eastwood (Clints talented daughter). Her Brother Kyle co-wrote the music, (proving once again the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She like her Dad is a sparing director & does a darn good job,

    Anothwe first is the author of the screenplay Micky Levy. This is not a remake of the old sentimental tearjerker SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, It thankfully is a modern reworking. It is still a sad somber tale, BUT it is not maudlin.

    The acting is first rate all the way. Kevin Bacon is excellent as the train engineer, whose train was involved in a tragic fatal accident, which is the crux of the rest of the story,

    Narcia Gae Harden is Kevin's wife who is in the last stages of cancer. & of course she is excellent as usual.

    Miles Heizer a 14 year old lad is the son of the woman killed in the train accident.He is excellent, I hope he has a large long career ahead of him.

    It is obvious the movies was made on a very tight budget & for some reason it only played in a handful of theatres for a few weeks.] It deserved a better fate.;

    This is an adult film & is way too mature for youngsters, No sex scenes, very brief nudity (needed for plot purposes), minimum violence & very little foul or coarse language.

    If you like sentimental films, see this.

    Ratings: *** (out of 4) 82 points (out of 100) IMDb 7 (out of 10)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    RAILS & TIES, under the guidance of first time director Alison Eastwood, tackles an implausible subject of multiple tragedies resulting in repairing personal breaks and with the able assistance of a groups of excellent actors makes a finely tune, sensitive study of little lives struggling against major odds. It is well conceived, well written (Micky Levy), well acted and sincerely moving.

    Tom Stark (Kevin Bacon) is a train engineer, married to his job as well as being married to his nurse wife Megan (Marcia Gay Harden) who is facing the ugly fact that her breast cancer is terminal. The cancer has spread beyond Megan's body into the tenuous space that keeps a marriage glued: Megan attempts to hide her desperate need for emotional support by continuing to work as a nurse and Tom takes on extra train runs to avoid the reality that face him at home. The other side of the story is equally sad: young Davey Danner (Miles Heizer) cares of his psychologically shattered mother (Bonnie Root) and unknowingly accompanies her on a jaunt to 'see the train' - a ploy well planned by the suicidal mother to drive in front of an oncoming train to end her life along with Davey's. The conductor of the train is of course Tom Stark, and when Tom first sees the car on the tracks, he keeps to company policy that recommends gradual slowing rather than the danger of an abrupt stop: the result is the death of Davey's mother but Davey escapes the crash while trying to pull his mother from the car. The tragedies mount: Davey is left homeless, being placed in a foster home run by the cruel 'mom' (Margo Martindale) only to escape to find the 'killer' of his mother; Tom is put on leave for the incident; Megan gets the final word that she has very little time left and is ready to leave the distant Tom. It is this inadvertent entrance of Davey into the lives of Tom and Megan that results in a healing of three souls who are desperate for the connection of love.

    While some my find the story implausible and saccharine, others will appreciate the manner in which Eastwood holds rein on the story, playing it for quiet honesty instead of explosive situations. Both Bacon and Harden deliver the quality of sophisticated performances that have marked their careers, and the remainder of the cast gives strong support - especially Eugene Byrd, Marin Hinkle, Bonnie Root, Margo Martindale, and of course Miles Heizer. This is a tough story to tell but the film holds an indelible mark on the viewer. Grady Harp
  • This is the directorial debut of Alison Eastwood. Daddy Clint must have taught her his cinema's tricks. That influence is seen, even though this was her first.

    Although not a movie without its flaws, it is human, dramatic and real. It's solid on story, drama and actors's performances, particularly the lead actors: Marcia Gay Harden, Kevin Bacon and especially Miles Heizer. This boy is sensational! He takes the whole movie alone and makes the movie's best scenes, so realistic is his sorrow. I'm kinda shocked that his filmography is practically TV series and almost no full-length movies. How can that be with a boy this talented?? America doesn't know what it missed!!

    Miles Heizer's character (Davey) is, like Kevin Bacon's character said, a strange boy because he is so mature for his age.
  • RAILS & TIES (2007) **1/2 Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay Harden, Miles Heizer, Marin Hinkle, Eugene Byrd, Bonnie Root, Steve Eastin, Laura Ceron, Margo Martindale, Kathryn Joosten. Unlikely melodrama about a young boy (newcomer Heizer) who comes into the lives of a train engineer and his dying wife (Bacon and Harden respectively) after an act of fate occurs binding the three together through their grief. Actress Allison Eastwood – daughter of Clint – parallels her father in the film-making process in this directorial debut that comes across as a Lifetime TV Movie but she employs many of his skills (i.e. soft fades to black, expert acting, subtle camera movements) that overlook the script's shortcomings.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Megan (Marcia Gay Harden) is fighting a third occurrence of breast cancer. As a nurse, her life has been fulfilling but, lately, she is struggling. Realizing that she may not whip the deadly disease again, she is longing to take short vacations and make the most of her time. She especially regrets that she and her husband, Tom (Kevin Bacon) never had children. As for Tom, he is quiet and has trouble with communication. Most days, he goes straight from his job as a railroad engineer, when the work day is done, to the garage where his elaborate miniature train set runs. Therefore, he is not showing strong visible support for Megan's condition. The two of them, however, are about to receive a significant jolt. One day, a suicidal, mentally ill mother places her car on a railroad track, wanting to end her life. Her elementary aged son, Davey, who has been ordered out of the car, knows what's coming but can't stop her. Sure enough, the train that Tom is running strikes the car, for the engineer couldn't stop in time without a serious derailment. Davey is placed in foster care. What the authorities don't count on is that Davey is very smart, runs away from the foster family and makes a beeline to Tom's, for the lad has discovered who was in charge of the train on the day of the accident. After some shouting and crying, Megan and Tom keep the boy with them, hoping to get him into a better state of mind. One day turns into two, then three, then more. Its just what Megan needs, a child to love and a diversion from her problems. Its also good for Tom, who needs to learn how to "open up". Will they become a family? This is a touching story, replete with serious topics like suicide, cancer, childlessness, depression and losing a parent. As such, although it is quite somber, the movie has the ability to help viewers with similar issues. Harden and Bacon deliver strong performances and the other cast members do good work, too. Settings, costumes, script and direction are well done also. Do you like tear-generating films or are you and anyone you love struggling with cancer or loss of a relative? Getting this film might prove instrumental in confronting these matters.
  • Vic_max22 January 2009
    I started watching this movie because it sounded like it involved something about a train accident. It does, but that's not what this movie is about. What got me is the sad clip of the train engineer's wife looking at her mastectomy in the mirror - couldn't stop watching after that. The story is both tragic and uplifting - but most of all it's compelling to watch once you get started.

    Storywise, it starts out with a mother who commits suicide by placing her car in front of an approaching train. The train engineer makes a judgment call to hit the car instead of risking a sudden stop. Eventually, her son finds his way into the lives of the engineer and his terminally ill wife... and the story progresses from there.

    The story itself is unusual and that made it a somewhat novel experience. The acting is amazing - esp. by Marcia Gay Harden (the ill wife). It's definitely a show worth watching if you're looking for a well-done drama.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Just saw my second showing of this film from Alison Eastwood. The movie is well shot and directed, with superb acting from the leads. The story ties together the tragedies in the lives of 3 people: a childless couple, Tom an Meg(Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden) who are grappling with Meg's metastatic cancer, and a young boy, whose mentally ill mother parked her car on a railroad track with the intention of killing them both. The journey these three take together moves from despair to hope. The emotions feel real and the film moves along evenly and deftly under Eastwood's direction. I hope we see more films from Ms. Eastwood, she made a very watchable film with wonderful acting.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What touched me the most is that despite the very very sad undertone caused by the omnipresence of death, both Kevin Bacon (Tom) and Miles Heizer (Davey), by fully embracing their pain and accepting death, are able to gain strength and really start living. What do I mean by this? Tom and Davey are confronted with the ultimate pain of losing or having lost their most beloved people in life. This is a heavy burden to carry. Whenever you see Tom, you see my wife is dying of cancer and I can't do anything about it written in his face. In Davey's case it's I have just lost my mom. That's a very depressing situation for both of them, where despair mingles with desperation, anger and emptiness. Both of them are on the verge of losing everything and yielding to the pain. However, from the moment Davey starts to live with Tom and his wife Megan, a subtle healing process is initiated. I very much agree with the reviewer above, Megan is healing Tom and herself when she decides to take in and look after Davey. For Davey it is not only a path at the end of which he can forgive the man who he deemed responsible for the death of his mother, it is also a path into a better future that allows him to leave death and pain behind and start his young life anew. The death of his mom allowed him to meet Tom and Megan and by the most unlikely circumstances he grows very close with them. When Megan's condition deteriorates and she is about to die, he blames himself and thinks God is punishing him. He has to accept death again, and this time it hurts just as much. However, he has found a place to be, he has found love, and although he is losing a most beloved person again, by embracing death and the pain, he wins a new life at Tom's side, a better life then he would have ever thought he would live. As for Tom, his life is already falling apart before the fateful accident. His wife is dying, he has no children, and when Davey shows up, he risks losing his job. You can feel the emptiness inside of him in every moment, which is grand acting on Kevin Bacon's part. Tom's working mate actually reproaches him for being dead inside. He is really not interested in Davey when he knocks on his door. Yet he realizes that Megan finds a lot of comfort in taking the boy in. Tom and Davey confront each other and their pain, they slowly establish a most unlikely bond, and at the time Megan is dying, they have found a new meaning in life. They help each other out, they overcame their individual pain, which becomes a common pain, and from this common pain they are able to rise together. Death has given both of them a new life, a new meaning in life, and at the very end they are stronger than they ever were and ready to usher into a future that, growing out from so much depression and sadness, holds the promise of life and love and the prospect of happiness.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is definitely a "chick flick", but it is so well acted and directed that even men can sit through it. (Though I warn you, guys, you'll be at least close to tears. So be forewarned who you watch this with.)

    Kevin Bacon is a train conductor faced with the consequences of putting on the emergency brakes, and (he believes) derailing his train and hurting or killing passengers, or driving on and striking a car a woman has parked on the tracks to kill herself. He chooses to slow the train down but not use the emergency brakes and kills the (suicidal) woman. The son of the woman shows up at the door of the conductor and his wife who are struggling to survive as a couple themselves. Initially, the boy wants to confront the conductor, but the conductor's wife's love melts his reserves and the boy stays on in hiding with the couple. You never realize the depth of their struggles until it's revealed towards the end of the film. Again, what could have been a maudlin and pathetic (in the worst sense) plot twist is completely acceptable because of the acting and subdued directing.

    Not one you'll remember for its plot but I think you will remember the acting and think you should watch it, implausible as it is, for what it is. Saying you'll "enjoy" it seems strange, and there's really no moral lesson here except perhaps that life has a way of delivering what you need though it seems like just the opposite sometimes.
  • jotix10010 August 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    Tom Stark has a lot to deal with as he prepares to take the Stargazer Express up North to Seattle. His wife, Megan, has been told her cancer is inoperable because it has metastasized in her bones. He has been offered to be relieved by a couple of buddies, but being conscientious, he decides to operate the train. Fate conspires against him when a disturbed woman, Laura Danner, decides to commit suicide by stopping her car in the tracks. To make matters worse, she intends to keep her young son, Miles, in the car, so the boy will die with her. Unfortunately, Tom, who has observed the car in the distance, decides not to stop the train, fearing he would derail, thus putting his passengers in danger of death, but killing the suicidal woman.

    Young Miles is beside himself as he blames Tom for not stopping. The young boy is placed in a foster home with a woman that is a disciplinarian. The lad ends up running away, as he finds his way over to Tom and Megan's home, seeking revenge for what he perceives was a cold blood murder. His arrival changes the dynamics in the house because Megan has decided to leave Tom and go to San Francisco. The boy is instrumental for her staying, as well as for finding peace with herself and for Tom to find redemption for the terrible decision he had to make.

    Alison Eastwood made her directorial debut with this film, written for the screen by Micky Levy. This team couldn't have been luckier in finding a better cast than what they got. The beginning of the story grabs the viewer's attention, but after the arrival of Miles at the Starks, it changes direction into a predictable domestic drama.

    Kevin Bacon is one of our most versatile actors. This is an actor who always delivers because he is incapable of giving a fake performance. Same can be said for Marcia Gay Harden. Her Megan shows a woman in pain for what she considers a terrible blow she has been dealt when she contracted a horrible disease she certainly didn't deserve. It is a pleasure watching Mr. Bacon and Ms. Harden because each compliment the other well. Young Miles Heizer, whose work has been basically in television, surprises for the way he holds his own against the stars.

    Ms. Eastwood shows a promise and one can only wish her well in future projects where she will probably find her own voice in the American cinema.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There were so many aspects of this film that frustrated me, not least the highly improbable plot. The film starts with a suicidal mother stopping her car on train tracks with her 11-year-old son inside, who somehow manages to escape before the train crashes into the car and kills her.

    We learn early on that the wife of the train driver, played by Kevin Bacon, is suffering from terminal cancer. The film centres around the inconceivable bond built between the driver, his dying wife and the 11-year-old son of the lady he killed. All of this happens very quickly as the boy goes from loathing the killer of his mother to seeing him as a father figure.

    Plot aside, I must say that I found it extremely difficult to understand the dialogue in this movie. Virtually the entire script is mumbled and whispered. Weak plot and an overall poor film.
  • Mostly from beginning to end this movie is a train wreck of misery and grief.Everyone feels very sorry for themselves. It starts with a train driver who has a wife who is dying of cancer; then a manic fatally ill woman wants to kill herself and son on a train line.

    Tie up these events as like minded seem to attract each other. And so it goes on.... Can a child save the driver and wife from their self pity? Will there be some respite from all the sorry!? Hmmm.

    Kevin Bacon is a fine actor but I thought his performance here was less than perfect.This movie is salvaged by the acting of Marcia Gay Harden and the kid Miles Heizer who vie between themselves to steal the show.

    Those people who want movies full of tears and sadness may enjoy(endure) this one.

    5 and a half out of ten rounded up hence:

  • Warning: Spoilers
    And I even learned a few things...

    I thought for sure Bacon would hit the emergency brake, and couldn't understand why not till it was explained in the movie, and then I read a thread here by engineers/operators backing it up. (Hitting the car is better than derailing a train-load full of passengers)

    That poor kid has to be one strong soul to live through and survive his upbringing, watching his Mom killed by a train, and then going through the death of another mother (role-model).

    I did think it was odd that none of the neighbors, relatives, or family- friends questioned where this new kid came from. But it is California, and having lived there know that people don't poking their nose in other's business... unlike here in Tennessee where you can't get a new cat without all the neighbors noticing!

    Acting was very well done, as with the directing. The young man portraying the boy was an excellent actor. Many child actors can't do a crying scene without looking VERY fake.

    Photography, scene preparation, etc all well done.

    I normally don't like dramas... too slow and all... but this one was done well, except....

    *************************Major Spoiler**************************

    It never shows whether Bacon gets the kid or not. It just leaves you hanging. I think that should have been explained.
  • If not for the powerful performances from Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden I don't think I would have made it through this. It's an okay indie-drama with an interesting premise, following a deadly collision between a car and a train which leads to an unlikely bond between the train engineer (responsible) and the young boy who escapes the carnage.

    The story comes together pretty believably considering the events but lagged a bit in the middle while we watch Bacon care for his cancer-stricken wife and the new member of his family. This is also one of those movies with an ending that leaves it up to you to decide what happened next. Hate those. 06.13
  • tomasetti11 December 2009
    The movie was very heart wrenching. It is all very real for everyone in the audience, thanks to Patricia Hayden's superb portrayal of a woman ready to give up the fight.

    The only issue I had with the movie lies in the boy who lost his mother to suicide - he goes on to blame the train conductor! Violent fits of rage both directly after the accident, and midway through the movie when he seeks homage. The sons knows as soon as his mother parks her car on the tracks what she is trying to do. He tries in vein to pull her from the car. The train is already coming too fast - however he feels that it's not basic physics, rather someones fault.

    Now, it's possible that the boy - after losing his mother - is looking to blame someone - anyone - for this tradegy. That is a common coping mechanism. However there's no way that the coping mechanism kicks in minutes after the accident. When you see the kid in the first 10 minutes of the movie being forcibly restrained by police officers trying to go-for-throat on the conductor, you can't help but to begin to begin to dislike the child (not totally).

    However, whatever redeeming qualities there are in the boy go out the window when he rejects hospitality from what looks like a temporary foster home. He does not smoothly make the transition from poor kid losing his mom to adopted child of this new couple. He risks almost becoming a protagonist within the first 20 minutes of the movie.

    I believe the writers could have created another vehicle for the boy to intrude himself into the train conductor's life other than blind rage towards a man who was just doing his job. Or, if they kept that vehicle, more should have been done in the way of exploring the boy's grief. Either way, cut out the scenes that force the audience into either disliking the boy or thinking there's something perhaps mentally awry with him.

    6 out of 10 stars