Awkward Family Reunion
Mad Men’s sexy, silver-fox John Slattery stars in this indie drama about a father’s bitter nature and his son’s desire to break free from the dysfunction. Well cast, the actors give solid, nuanced performances.
2.5 stars: Perfect for those who want a break from their own family problems
Twenty-somethings Seth (Zach Gilford) and Andie (Jena Malone) escape the city for a weekend at Zach’s family cabin. Once there and making love, the young couple are surprised by Zach’s emotionally distant father Gil (John Slattery) and his much younger new girlfriend, Vicky (Gabrielle Union).
As father and son grunt at each other, it’s the women who try to make peace and finally persuade both of them to stay at the cabin and enjoy the weekend as a family.
Gil is charmed by Andie as she gets Gil to loosen up by smoking some pot. Together, they observe the trees and general beauty of the woods in upstate New York. Gil begins to see his son through vegan Andie’s eyes — a sensitive man, a good cook, and a penchant to hide from confrontation — just like Gil.
Feeling more like a piece of theater than a movie, this small ensemble cast shines as they are allowed the time and space to explore their relationships with each other, keeping every moment real.
The bear that stumbles into the kitchen provides a break in the family tension and perhaps serves as a metaphor for life: Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something totally unexpected occurs — like when one of the women reveals her unexpected pregnancy.
Eventually, father and son hash out years of resentment and frustration that give way to a narrow road of intimacy. Slattery is the master of tense bitterness, as proven on his show Mad Men, but it’s nice to see him express some softer, deeper feelings.
Union and Malone give gentle, subtle performances and remind us how important a woman’s sensitivity is in the family dynamic, given how stubborn many men can be.
Bottom line: This is a very realistic, slow-moving family drama with great acting that heralds women as the glue that keeps the family strong.
Photo credit: Cinedigm/Flat Iron Entertainment