Henry & Helen hadn’t heard from their son Gabriel in 20 years until they get a phone call from the hospital – their son has a humongous brain tumour and even if the operation is successful, it’s already erased his short-term memory and a lot of cognitive function. There are two components to this story: the ongoing medical issue, which they try to resolve through the use of (and love of) music; the second, the family’s past issues, which is told through flashbacks.
I picked this movie because of JK Simmons, and he’s the reason to watch it. The movie’s predictable and sentimental, but Simmons’ performance really rises above. He’s just a father trying to bridge the gap between himself and his son – the brain tumour is actually the least of it.
It’s actually based on a true story and had the potential to be more than it is, but the newbie director plays it safe, injecting very little in the way of artistry. And there are holes in the narrative: what have any of them been up to in the intervening 20 years? But I enjoyed this movie, and was moved by it, in the expected places but also along the edges. JK Simmons has been trying to tell us for ages now that he’s capable of so much more than Hollywood’s been handing him, and I’m glad he’s getting his due. Character actor my ass. I hope to see his name front and centre on the marquee for a long, long while.