8 January 2015 | gregorybnyc
Game Cast Tries to Keep a Weak Script Afloat
A wealthy family gathers for a final summer weekend at their beautiful stone home on Lake Tahoe. Mom (played with her patented elegant glow by Patricia Clarkson) and Dad have decided to sell. Things are not boding well for this family gathering. One son has been fired from his job with a financial firm over an expensive clerical error. He arrives in a bad mood and everyone puts up with his insufferable, whiny behavior. The other son, who is gay and works in the film industry, has brought a friend with whom he is forming an attachment that doesn't quite feel like a relationship, and invited a female movie star friend. He is simply embarrassed by his mother's shallow, acquisitive behavior (at one point, Mama plunks down a considerable amount of money on artsy farmer's market things). Nobody is connecting in this family. Mom is a snob. Dad is remote. The kids bicker and look awkward. Throughout the first two-thirds of the film, I wanted to strangle Mom and the kids. But the skill of the actors are what keeps you watching. When there is some sort of sea change in the family, they become a little more likable. But I'm never quite sure why. At the end of the weekend, the son doesn't tell his mother about his work woes, and she doesn't tell either son that she's planning to sell their beloved summer home (though there is some doubt that this will actually happen). I suppose the family games will continue. This is a very well-made film with a strong cast, goo direction, excellent sets, good camera work. Did we need to have the trio from Mozart's COSI FAN TUTTE yet again (this has to be the fourth time I've heard it used on a soundtrack). The film's faults can be directed at a very weak screenplay. I'm not looking for a tidy denouement, but I do rather insist that things make at least a little sense.