Rating: R sexuality, language and drug use
Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Talented teen Emile Hirsch is a bright spot of this tired dysfunctional family drama that speaks to grief and denial in unwieldy doses.
A golden family is only as golden as a brief shining moment in time allows.† The Travis family is riding the glory train of champion swimmer son Matt, who abruptly kills himself when the pressure of being perfect becomes too much to bear.
Brother Tim (Hirsch) is a typical high school senior struggling with college decisions and girl problems when the suicide occurs, taking his fragile parents (Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels as Sandy and Ben Travis) down an emotional rabbit hole from which they canít dig out.
Too many minutes of cookie-cutter despair unfold on screen as Tim buries his feelings in whatever illegal substance is at hand. The elder Travisí gingerly sidestep touchy blowups in a minefield of guilt and infidelity while the marriage unravels accordingly.†
Cinematic dysfunction is a hot topic; suffice it to say itís been played out a lot more effectively. Everyone trying to find him or herself, to no avail. Weaver is tense but strangely laconic as a woman on the verge; Daniels has less to work with as the pushy sports dad who checks out of life, unable to bear the burden of guilt his sonís death heaps onto him.† Hirschís smoldering stare is put to good use as he navigates a myriad of hurts.
Crucial piece of the puzzle solved at filmís end is a tear-inducing moment of truth; unexpectedly the projectís most raw and affecting moment.