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|Who Loves the Sun|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir-scr Matt Bissonnette|
with Lukas Haas, Molly Parker, Adam Scott, Wendy Crewson, RH Thomson
release UK Oct.06 lff,
US Nov.06 afifest
On golden pond: Haas, Parker and Scott
Writer-director Bissonnette effectively uses brittle emotion and black humour in this gentle, self-contained drama about confronting uncomfortable truths.
Mary and Arthur Bloom (Crewson and Thomson) are stunned one day when Will Morrison (Haas) suddenly shows up at their lakeside home. After his father deserted his mother, they practically raised him along with their son Daniel (Scott), his best friend. But Will disappeared five years earlier with no explanation, abandoning his own young wife Maggie (Parker). Now that he's back, everyone wants to know why he left and where he's been. But he has some questions of his own. And skeletons are about to tumble out of various closets.
Bissonnette keeps the film low-key, slowly revealing the intricate relationships between these five people until we begin to wonder how they can stand to be around each other. But obviously this tension is what holds them together. Most of the revelations are predictable and uncomplicated, and the whole film feels over-constructed--too neatly illustrating how the past repeats itself and how the sins of the parents are passed down. Consider the small cast and limited settings, and it also feels rather a lot like a stage play.
All five actors are terrific, stretching and deepening their characters as the story progresses. Haas and Parker hold things together with sympathetically fragile performances, even though they are as essentially repressed and selfish as the others--so self-reliant that they can barely consider anyone's feelings beyond their own. Scott has a less likeable role, but gradually swings it around into something absorbing and even heartbreaking. Especially as the three-way embers of attraction stir once again. Meanwhile, Crewson and Thomson stay mainly on the fringe, but add plenty of weight of their own.
The script is packed with jagged encounters, awkward conversations and cruelly hilarious dialog. The subtext is extremely intense, but the film's rather slow and plodding as we wait for the other shoes to drop. We want to slap all of these non-communicative people, get them to say what they actually mean for a change and move beyond the distance they're creating between each other. And it's when we turn our frustration on ourselves that the film becomes something startlingly powerful.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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