At first glance director Karen Moncrieff’s family drama is similar in format and tone to In the Bedroom. Slow in spots, yet almost always interesting, the film takes a deeper look at a single parent household and how said family copes with the emotionally draining events of everyday life. Stunning newcomer Agnes Bruckner and indie vet David Strathairn star in this oft compelling yet eventually disappointing character study of a young girl’s rise out of the doldrums of adolescent life.
Meg (Bruckner) is a gifted writer and poet who is “discovered” by her Advanced English teacher Mr. Auster (Strathairn). Aside from her passions for the pen, Meg is almost single handedly raising her emotionally troubled younger sister Lily (Regan Arnold), as well as coping with a detached mother and a father who is literally never around.
David Straitharn, as usual, is compelling while Bruckner and Regan Arnold hold their own against a story that is slightly tired and in some spots, incredibly uncomfortable. This is never more evident than in the cliched and predictable bend that the third act presents.
While it is refreshing to see young, new talent begin a promising career portraying an emotionally deep character, rather than starring in the latest Freddie Prinze vehicle, this film is ultimately disappointing if not only for the lack of originality in the final scenes.