Besides babies and animals, there is nothing harder to witness than having a loved one ill or in distress. Seeing them nearly immobile from pain, you only wish your hug could remove the discomfort from their body, letting them fall into a quiet healing sleep. Though the relationship was several years ago, I can still recall sitting on the sofa while they were convalescing after a medical procedure. Suddenly there was a yell, followed by a roaring, tumbling sound. I sprang up and raced to the stairs where I saw them sprawled down at the bottom. My throat constricted as it tried to squeeze back my thumping heart that was so loud, it reverberated inside my ears. After making sure they had nothing broken; all I could do was hold them close in my arms, watching their hair sway back and forth from my heavy breathing. That same instinctive protectiveness is what attracted me to this compelling drama. Russell Crowe (Broken City, Les Miserables) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, People Like Us) were husband and wife, John and Lara Brennan. Arrested for the murder of her boss, John felt increasingly helpless with his wife’s unsuccessful case appeals. As Lara became more despondent, John had to do something to keep his family together. The start of the movie had a great set up for the beginning of the story. Russell and Elizabeth blended well together, doing a fine job of acting. I liked the way the director built up the levels of emotion as the movie progressed. My problem started with the change in Russell’s character; I found it hard to believe. Because of that, the story started to fall apart for me. It annoyed me somewhat because the last 30 minutes of the movie offered tense excitement. I did get a kick out of Liam Neeson (Battleship, The Grey) doing a cameo as Damon Pennington. For the few scenes Brian Dennehy (Every Day, The Big Year) was in as George Brennan, he still was able to provide a quiet strength. It can be brutal watching our significant other in crisis; making some of us wish we could take their place. One scene had blood in it.
2 1/2 stars — DVD
It is impossible to control those things that are out of our control. This took me a long time to learn, yet periodically I still try. I came to this realization when I started my yoga studies. Prior to them, each morning I would get angry while I was stuck in traffic on the way to work. There was nothing I could do about it, though I did come up with some creative ideas on how to eliminate the cars around me. From my studies I finally made the connection that day after day I was using up my energy to get angry at something that was out of my control. I still sit in traffic every day but I stay relaxed, listening to music now. In this dramedy we got an honest portrayal of the daily challenges in a family’s life. Liev Schreiber (Salt, Defiance) and Helen Hunt (The Sessions, Twister) played married couple Ned and Jeanne. The two began to experience their daily lives veering out of control when Jeanne’s cantankerous father Ernie, played by Brian Dennehy (First Blood, Romeo + Juliet), came to live with them. At the same time their gay son Jonah, played by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), announced he wanted to attend the school’s prom. I thought the fine acting sold the majority of the multiple story lines. What did not work for me was Ned’s office. His boss Garrett’s, played by Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Thirteen, The Cat’s Meow), extreme requests seemed too outrageous. If Eddie’s character was supposed to represent a commentary on reality television, it was lost on me. The topics of elder care and acceptance would have been enough to make a strong story. Adding the other issues, though valid in the real world, only bogged down the pacing in this film. In addition, I believe this caused the ending to be weak. I would have preferred the writers took a couple of issues and dug deeper into them. The movie kept my interest; there was no need to get angry over its flaws. Besides, there was nothing I could do about it anyway.
2 1/3 stars — DVD