Every decision opens up a new path of travel; though it may not always be the best choice, every new road laid is fraught with actions and reactions. If you choose a sugary cereal over a low sugar one for breakfast you may experience a letdown from your “sugar high” during the morning hours. You discover while driving to work the shortcut you took delayed you further because of the freight train that stopped you at the railroad tracks you now had to cross. Each of these decisions affected you solely, or did they? What if an important phone call was missed because of your delay and the new customer calling with their large order decided not to leave a message and called your competitor, who was willing to match prices? I have said this before but every action causes a reaction; it is just that simple. The ones I have a hard time with are those that cannot be easily explained or do not come with a reason. It is like a friend of mine who was dating someone new for 4 or 5 dates, thinking everything was going well. All of sudden their date stopped communicating. No reply texts, no returned phone calls; there was no reason given for the total silence. This has happened to me and I have to tell you it can throw one for a loop depending on how much was invested into growing the relationship. I always have to wonder, when things happen between two people, if the one individual knows what kind of affect their actions cause to the other person. Even when reasons are laid out, we do not always know what reactions may take place later on. ESTHER Messner, played by Linda Emond (Julie & Julia, Stop-Loss), was so proud of her only son Marcus, played by Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Percy Jackson franchise). He was going on a scholarship to college to become a lawyer. Everything would go as planned as long as Marcus stayed focused and studied hard. Set in the 1950s this drama had a competent cast to handle the story based on Philip Roth’s (Portnoy’s Complaint, The Human Stain) novel. With Tracy Letts (The Big Short, Homeland-TV) as Dean Caudwell, Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold, A Dangerous Method) as Olivia Hutton and Ben Rosenfield (A Most Violent Year, 6 Years) as Bertram Flusser; I thought all were quite good. I only wished there were more scenes with Linda’s character as the mother. The sets and costumes were perfect for the era; this film had a distinct look to it. I especially enjoyed the acting out of Logan and Linda but I found the script becoming top heavy as the story played out. The scenes between Logan and Tracy intrigued me at first but then it felt more like a therapy session than a student and administrator. I was surprised by the turn of events in the story but I almost wished they had taken place earlier. Besides these few quibbles I enjoyed watching the actions and reactions taking place in this movie.
Some people learn about someone from looking through their medicine cabinet. Who knows, you may discover they suffer from acid reflux, wear contact lenses or have sensitive teeth. Now I will admit if the door to the medicine cabinet is ajar, I will peek at what is visible without touching anything; so there will not be any fingerprints. So yes, I may know what type of hair shampoo a person likes or they are on an antibiotic; however, this does not reveal a true picture about the individual. If you really want to get to know someone, take a look at their music library. Based on the type of music they listen to can tell you a variety of things, such as they are an old-fashioned romantic or they must have had a relationship that had a bad breakup. I know if someone were to go through my music they would figure out I like to move because of the abundance of dance music in my library. Another aspect of music is its healing properties. How many of us have played a particular song over and over to heal a sad, heavy heart? Music has a way of providing us many gifts. AFTER a horrific accident Franny, played by Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Bride Wars), flew home after being away for several years, to be there for her brother Henry, played by Ben Rosenfield (A Most Violent Year, Boardwalk Empire-TV), and her estranged mother Karen, played by Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, The Help). Listening to her brother’s music, Franny sought out her brother’s favorite places to listen to his favorite artists so she could get to know him. This film festival nominee had a gentle story despite its tragic event. Anne was well suited for the role and I enjoyed her performance as I did Mary and Johnny Flynn (Something in the Air, Lotus Eaters) as James Forester. The music score was full of indie folk songs; at least that is how I would describe them. They were sweet but nothing memorable. The idea for this drama was admirable; I thought it was an interesting take on a familiar theme. The issue I had with this movie was it did not go far enough to be unique. There were times I felt I had already seen parts of it before. In addition, it was pretty easy to figure out how the story would play out. Despite these shortcomings I did not mind sitting through this drama; granted the main attraction for me was the music. On a final note, this film may have hit a few sour notes but it did prove again the power of music.
1 3/4 stars