With a strikingly unflinching eye, newcomer Sara Colangelo astutely adapts her 2010 short into an evocative feature, beautifully capturing the impact a series of random tragedies can have on a community. It's gorgeously shot and sensitively acted by a skilled cast, and while the film remains a little too ambiguous for its own good, it still gets under the skin to leave us pondering some very hard issues.
It's set in a working-class West Virginia town that's still reeling after a devastating mining accident. The only survivor was Amos (Boyd Holbrook), who has been left injured both physically and psychologically. And it doesn't help that everyone is pressuring him to lie to the investigators while quietly resenting him for surviving. For support, he turns to Diane (Elizabeth Banks), the wife of the mine's manager (Josh Lucas). And Diane needs help too, because her teen son JT (Travis Tope) has gone missing. The only person who knows what happened is 14-year-old Owen (Jacob Lofland), whose father died in the accident. He was cruelly bullied by JT in school, and is struggling to keep his own secret.
The script is minimalistic, as Colangelo prefers to deepen the characters rather than construct a detailed plot. Sometimes this feels rather too understated, but it also allows the actors to create people who are remarkably involving. Holbrook is magnetic, the heart of the film as a damaged man looking for healing wherever he can find it. Banks is simply wonderful in a complex role that makes us wish she'd do more serious drama. And Lofland more than lives up to the promise of Mud with a darkly involving performance that continually catches us by surprise. These three characters circle around each other like wounded animals looking for help, but while the plot points that push them together might feel contrived, their interaction is earthy and very real.
Continue reading: Little Accidents Review
Lachlan MacAldonich is an ex Britpop musician whose glory days are well and truly over. He moved to Los Angeles from Scotland twelve years ago and settled comfortably into a lifestyle of farming, market selling and music podcasting on a small scale. Although he adores the country that he is living in, his life in general can sometimes prove too much (or too little) forcing him to drink his problems away at various city bars. After a particularly heavy booze fuelled night, Lachlan is pulled over by the cops and arrested for driving under the influence as he tries to get home. His arrest throws into light previous drug charges that ultimately put his future in the balance as he is threatened with deportation back to the UK. The only way he can remain in the country is if he can prove that his leaving would cause emotional hardship to a wife, child or other relative who is of US citizenship and since Lachlan is divorced with one child who he hasn't seen in several years and has one female friend who visits his farmer's market regularly but is very much out of his league, he hardly has a chance.
'California Solo' is the heart-wrenching story of a forgotten man's quest to bury his past and find a way to lead the life he so wishes to lead. It has been directed and written by Marshall Lewy ('Blue State') and opens in New York on November 30th 2012.
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