Chris has just been released from prison after serving 20 years for a crime he didn’t really commit. That sounds like a cop out but the shades of guilt were complicated and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. But he was sentenced at the age of 17 as an adult and it was only thanks to the hard work of his high school teacher Carol that he’s now out.
A couple of things: Chris (Jay Duplass) had developed quite an intense relationship with said teacher (Edie Falco) but now that it’s not a strictly phone friendship, things are different. She’s married. She has a teenage daughter, in fact. But Chris doesn’t really have very many other people in his life, so he’s leaning very heavily on her. His brother isn’t a lot of help – yeah, he’s staying in his garage, but things are pretty tense since Ted (Ben Schwartz) never visited him in prison, and seems to have had something to do with the crime that sent Chris away. Things are very, very tense.
Also: freedom isn’t quite as free as Chris has imagined. I mean, being outside the walls of his cell is intimidating. But he’s also dealing with the confines of probation – not drinking, not traveling, finding a job suitable for an ex-con, etc, etc. And I couldn’t help but feeling like Carol’s less than ideal marriage is a little more prison like than she’d like to admit. So shit’s complicated.
Duplass and director Lynn Shelton wrote the script together and though it’s not very action-oriented, it’s packed with emotional awkwardness and personal growth. Duplass doesn’t make for a typical criminal, whatever that means. Even 20 years of prison doesn’t seem to have hardened him, he’s sensitive and introverted and a little lost and needy. The movie really follows his struggles to readjust to this life, and it’s quickly obvious that the superficial stuff like texting and bike helmets are the least of his concerns. The world has changed, but more importantly, so has he. He’s struggling to catch up; the film shines in small moments, like when Carol’s daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) teaches him it’s no longer okay to use the word ‘retarded.’
Edie Falco is a wonder. I especially loved the complicated relationship between her and her daughter. But the movie flounders a bit, with Chris’s plight a little too internalized. The story’s predictability makes this film good, but not great.
Well you’re not making me want to see this one, but great review!
LikeLiked by 2 people
Sounds like a Netflix-on-a-Saturday-night kinda flick. Not exactly exciting, but not too taxing.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I was thinking this movie could have gone very Con-Air from that first sentence of the review.
Yeah and instead it’s a sensitive indie flick.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well, you could look at Con-Air as a sensitive flick. I mean, Nic Cage really wants to get that bunny to his daughter. Plus, there is the whole “can we consider Steve Buscemi a truly cured child molester just because he left that girl in the drained pool alone?” story line.
Not making me want to run out and see it. But I am a sucker for anything with a Duplass attached to it.
There is something about Edie Falco that mesmerizes when she’s in a scene!
Even though you didn’t love it, you absolutely sold me on it. I like most of what Lynn Shelton does. (Laggies was the only feature of hers I didn’t care for)
Pingback: SXSW: The Remix | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES
Pingback: ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIESTop 10 Female-Directed Movies 2018