13 September 2015 | dansview
I'll give the makers credit for a fairly original setting. It's a household with a house-husband, a retired actor father, a little boy, a black male buddy of the father, and a kooky, free-spirited sister in Venice Beach, California. The lead is an environmental lawyer.
Well, movie people write about stuff they can relate to. These characters are Godless, artistic, environmentally concerned, and unconventional. The viewer in Central Nebraska may not relate to them, but some of the themes are supposed to transcend setting.
Of course Venice never looked so good. The family lives on a quiet street and roams the area in peaceful bliss. In reality, that place is filled with homeless, druggies, gangs, and barflies. But the way it was presented was quite pleasing.
I like Chris Messina. He comes across as a thoughtful guy in his indie appearances, and also in this one as director and costar. The lead lady is beautiful when she has make up on, so guys will appreciate that. She can act too. Check out Final Destination 3. Don Johnson is excellent, and Chris Messina brings a gravitas to the screen.
The kid actor was perfect as well. He didn't have gratuitous cutesy scenes or dialog. You felt his sincere confusion over the drama in the household. The wild sister could have overplayed her role, but she didn't. She hit the mark.
As others have said, there could have been some more profound dialog about the meaning of life, but I thought the lead's closing argument in the court room scene was well-written. I also like the way they worked a Checkhov play into the story. It was supposed to parallel Don Johnson's character's predicament of growing old and being left behind.
Black folks will appreciate a wonderfully understated performance by Derek Luke.
Yes, I would have preferred more background on everyone. Where is Don Johnson's wife? Does the painter husband make a living? How did the lead get so involved with the environment? Give us a tad more about the sister. There was some attempt to explain her, but not enough.
How did Derek Luke's character make his initial money? There is also a small role played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. She looks great for her age. Almost the same as she did 30 years ago, although slightly heavier.
I'm glad they did not bombard us with an obnoxious soundtrack. Most of the background music is just a dramatic one-note hum to increase the feeling of intensity.
All in all, not a bad picture if you simply accept the fact that it's about people who some of us may not relate to. The performances are sensitive, gentle, and understated. The atmosphere is appealing, and the attempt to make some sense out of the chaos of changing lives was adequate if not memorable.