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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fireflies In The Garden (2008)

At his mother's (Julia Roberts) funeral, her son (Ryan Reynolds) must confront the ghosts of the past that have prevented him from growing into a healthy and complete human being, namely the sadistic tyranny of his thuggish father (Willem Dafoe). The irony is that both are broken men, the son as emotionally cracked as the father. Written and directed by Chinese-American film maker Dennis Lee, the film delicately weaves the present day with the past until it becomes apparent that yet a third generation may be tainted by the sins of the father(s). To the film's credit, there is no catharsis. At the end, everything isn't tied up in a neat little ribbon. The scars are still there and they're not healed but maybe, just maybe, a truce. The film's biggest handicap is the bland Ryan Reynolds who is simply not a strong enough actor to handle the complexities of the part. In his scenes with Dafoe (if the film belongs to anyone, it's Dafoe), Reynolds recedes. Strangely enough, the film shys away from addressing the mother's possible complicity in the child's (Cayden Boyd as the young Reynolds) destruction by standing by and allowing it to happen. With Emily Watson (wonderful as always as Roberts' sister), Hayden Panettiere as the young Watson, Ioan Gruffudd and Carrie-Anne Moss.

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