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By Whitney Borup | March 3, 2009

Three years ago, Liam Lombard died a sudden and unexpected death. Now the Lombard family has to pick up the pieces of their broken family. Jordan grows morbidly obese, Penny feels unbearably unwanted, Ben seeks love in all the wrong places, Lisa has an eating disorder, and Liam’s fiancé, Indigo, continues to have emotional breakdowns. Here are a group of people all struggling to get over the same loss, but struggle completely alone, trapped in their own difficulties.

To those of us living outside Her Majesty’s kingdoms, Christopher Weekes, Noni Hazelhurst, Steve Rodgers, and Leeanna Walsman may be foreign names. But to those in the UK and, especially, Australia, the cast of “Bitter and Twisted” has a long history in film and television. These are well-trained, seasoned actos who offer us more solid performances here. Their professionalism shows and the acting in the film is a joy to watch. We spend just the right amount of time with each character before we grow bored with their somewhat clichéd mental issues.

The acting seems perfect to me. The structure of the film, however, has a few weaknesses. The Lombard’s daughter Lisa, for example, is given hardly any screen time. In a story concerned with a family dealing with death, with every other family member highlighted, this seems strange. It seems especially strange when we are given little glimpses into her life that are never followed through. She has an eating disorder, she may be starting to have sex with classmates, she doesn’t respect her mother…all of these aspects of her character are so interesting that it seems a shame we never get to know her. There are other little holes in the story that go unexplained to a fault. While ambiguity can be a plus in many dramas, “Bitter and Twisted” ignores some of the more challenging issues it might have to deal with.

That said, the film is full of perfectly placed moments between characters that interact without really listening to what the other has to say. It is an interesting look at death, recovery, denial, love, aging, etc. etc. etc. all wrapped up into 90 minutes.

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