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.
All of my training in tailing a suspect came from The Hardy Boys. Besides having read all of the books in the series when I was young, I read their special handbook on how to become a detective. Early on a Saturday morning I would leave the house to start following my first suspect. There was an elderly woman who every week would walk to the grocery store, wheeling her massive shopping cart behind her. I would tail her to the store and note what items she took off the shelves. With my vivid imagination I pretended I was the store detective looking for shoplifters. At the time, I believed the detective handbook was my most valuable possession. The training I received back then has helped me today find actors that are creating a sound, diverse body of work. This is one of the reasons I wanted to see this DVD. Michael Shannon (Premium Rush, The Runaways) is one such actor. I have been impressed each time I have seen him in a movie or television show. Playing alcoholic private investigator John Rosow in this neo-noir film, Michael delivered a solid performance in this drama. His character was hired to follow a man from Chicago to Los Angeles. Without any information on the individual, John only had the instructions relayed by the mysterious Miss Charley, played beautifully by Amy Ryan (Win Win, Gone Baby Gone). During his assignment, John began to discover perplexing aspects to this strange man, played by Frank Wood (Changeling, Michael Clayton). Little did John know his job would take him to a connection to the 9/11 attack in New York City. The director created a slow paced, artful film that may not appeal to those who need action and excitement in their movies. I found the story took every day trappings and added a slight twist to them. The jazz infused soundtrack was a perfect accompaniment to this freshly mined mystery story.
2 3/4 stars — DVD