Set over an intensely hot Labor Day weekend in 1987, the story centres thirteen year old Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith) and his single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) who reluctantly harbor an intimidating escaped convict Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin) in their already fragile home. But this is no racy-panic stricken hostage thriller. Oh no. If you're going to be held hostage in your home by any escaped convict then Frank is the perfect house guest. He can come and stay at ours anytime.
Since her husband's departure, Adele has spiraled into a depression that has left her anxious, vacant and isolated from the world that she once knew. On first thought you could mistake her for a woman burned by her husbands abandonment, who neglects her son, but you soon learn that there is more sadness and pain behind those dark and troubled eyes. Her story is heartbreaking and you are left feeling so saddened by her tortured soul and her longing to be loved. Winslet's performance is predictably perfect, if not somewhat outshone in this film by the male leads, particularly her son, Henry.
Your heart goes out to Henry, from the moment he narrates his personal account of the weekend that changed their lives. Since his father walked out on them to remarry his secretary, Henry has taken care of his mother and he feels this overwhelming sense of responsibility for her. He desperately tries to fill the void that his father left and it's heart breaking to see from a child's perspective the gaping whole that an absent parent leaves on a family, which is a key theme running throughout the film. You can easily see why Henry is drawn to Frank from the moment he asks for their help, as he is the father figure he has been longing for.
Not long after entering their home and tying them up to create the perfect hostage scenario, Frank begins to cook them dinner before cleaning (and waxing) the floors, mending the wall outside, fixing the car and teaching Henry how to play baseball. So of course within a day, Adele has fallen for Frank. He is everything that was missing in their lives. I don't think there would be a housewife in the country that would turn him away or into the hands of the police. All men should take a leaf out of Frank's book (OK so perhaps not the murdering part...) but if you cook good food, do a little cleaning and fix things around the house (without being asked a zillion times) the world would be a happier place for you all. It's that easy. Brolin's performance brings enough unease and curiosity to the film that you will be hooked from the moment he says "I wonder if you can give me a hand here"...gripping stuff.
Directed by Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno), the film provokes a range of issues, but for me the fundamental theme is about family. It's the simple things in life that make us whole and it's something that people can take for granted. Each character is desperately longing for a family and unconditional love that binds you together. On Frank's arrival there is a new hope for for Adele and Henry. He brings light into their dark lives and reunites them as a unit.
The cinematography is absolutely stunning and it cleverly draws on all the senses. There are so many delicate moments that captivate the subtle themes that the film explores. You can smell the food that Frank prepares which draws them closer together. You feel the intense heat that radiates not only that holiday weekend but the intensity of the situation the characters are faced with. You can feel the weight of every touch and understand how hungry the characters are to be held and to be supported. The atmosphere is intense and almost suffocating that when the characters are outside, you take in the air and appreciate a moment of freedom from the strained circumstances they find themselves in. One particularly beautiful scene, where Frank teaches Adele and Henry how to cook a peach pie, is a simple, yet detailed scene that screams a thousands words which signify the idea of family. Of working together, supporting one another and growing together as a whole. All that from a peach pie...
Although I think unintended, this film could be categorised as a chick flick, but there are moments on intensity and suspense to keep just about any film lover captivated until the credits. If you're looking for something to do with your Mum's this Mother's Day, I'd say this film is a winner.
Miss Enchanting's Film Rating: 3.5/5
A beautiful tale of love, longing and loss that will leave you reaching for your tissues and if you're single, possibly signing up to some sort of inmates-r-us dating line. If they are all as reformed, sexy and house trained as Frank, then Uniformdating.com has whole new batch of eligible handymen to add to their books. They can't all be bad...can they?
The film opens in cinemas on Friday 21st March 2014, but until then, here's a little sneak peak...
But no experience of mine would be complete without some sort of embarrassing-wish-you-could-take-it-back moment. Of course it wouldn't and last night was no different. After the film we were asked to hang around to do a little vox pop in front of the camera which might be used as promotional footage for the films release next week. No pressure then.
So having taken Aimee along for the screening, we were asked to do a joint review. Fine I thought, she'll do most of the talking! So we step in front of the lights and the camera and quickly start chatting away to this cool film firing questions our way. One of the questions he asked us was to come up with one keyword to sum up the movie. Aimee lead with an effortless speech around the word "Hopeful" and how all the characters are all hopeful that one day they will find that perfect ending and how there was such an underlying sadness to each person, but when they were together, everything worked and you just hope that they would all find their own happy ending. Great stuff Ame.
Then the camera turns to me. "Errr...I think I'd say Empty". Cue blank stares. Don't ask me where this word came from, probably the gaping whole that was left in my brain after Aimee flawed it with her degree worthy spew. But oh no, I take this word and continue talking... "Yeah you know like (I say this A LOT when I'm struggling for words) "Empty" as in everyone had something missing in their lives, there was a lot of emptiness, (Right, stop saying EMPTY!) they were all looking for something to fill the...er..emptiness in their...er...empty lives..." There are now at this point several vacant looks staring back at me included the cool film guy and the crew standing behind him. Brilliant. Cool film guy finally pipes up for what felt like an eternity, "OK so I don't think we'll be using the word "Empty" on the film posters, that will really get them hooked!" To which everyone, including my good old buddy Aimee burst into rip roaring laughter and it in the midst of their laughter I've taken a step back knocking down the film poster that was so carefully positioned behind us. Excellent...hole swallow me up, now. I am such a losebag sometimes...and to think that's all on camera somewhere. Just great.
Well I think we can safely say my VT review wont be used on any promotional footage, but it might make it onto YouTube for world's lamest movie reviews. Note to self: think about my choice of keywords carefully before stepping in front of a camera. I don't think I'm quite ready to start Vlogging anytime soon.
|I was so excited...I resemble one of The Muppets in this photo!|
Until next time,
With Love & Fancy Film Previews,
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the a private screening of this film in exchange for a blog review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in anyway. Thank you to MumsNet Bloggers Network and to Paramount Pictures UK for this fantastic opportunity.