A review of “Evergreen” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG-13 for language and mature themes

Run Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

 

 

Sundance hatches another indie sweetheart, rife with clichés and precocious artsy-craft.

Evergreen is a whirly frappe of the dysfunctional family films that have come before it. Mom Kate (Cara Seymour) is on the move, dragging her reluctant teenage daughter Henri (Addie Land) to the grimy outskirts of Washington state to settle in with her aging mother and try (again) for a fresh start.

This time around things may work out.  Kate lands a job at the First Lady Cosmetics factory and manages to stay civil to her rigid mom.  Henri adjusts to the local high school, maintaining a low profile until she meets smooth-talking heartthrob Chat (Noah Fleiss).

This is the place for a refreshing change of pace; an intriguing plot arc if you will. Instead, the story goes routine.  Kate is dating a poker player from a nearby casino and Henri throws a teen tantrum.  Henri begins to depend on the stability of Chat’s nuclear family and overstays her welcome.  Players trade shame stories and deliver such trite colloquy as “But I know who I am and I know who you are”. Blah, blah, blah.

Rich doesn’t equal perfect, as Henri discovers when the fissures in Chat’s parents’ relationship blow apart.  Bruce Davison and Mary Kay Place offer meaningful performances as that complicated couple, living under a burgeoning cloud of denial.

The narrative treats the timely issues of love and dignity with a heavier hand than necessary, considering the repetitive nature of its themes.  Sympathy card is played blatantly enough to overshadow the story’s natural rhythms. Intermittently poignant but overwhelmingly tired, Evergreen is just another notch in Sundance’s belt.