A kids' movie for adults. Four kids dealing with loss and the rocky path of adolescence.
Brothers Jacob and Rudy (both played by Conor Donovan) experience a tragedy at the hands of bullies, leaving family and friends struggling to continue living and mend their saddened lives.
Leonard (Jesse Camacho)is obese. When his gym teacher, Coach Gilman (Bruce Altman), shows an interest in getting him to shed his excess weight, Leonard has to go up again his morbidly obese parents who have no interest in changing their eating habits. This leads to Leonard’s alienation and eventual drama where he takes drastic measures to get his own mother to change her own eating habits.
Lonely Malee (Zoe Weizenbaum), daughter of therapist Carla (Annabella Sciorra), is dealing with the break-up of her parents and not seeing her father, although he and her mother have frequent phone arguments. She becomes infatuated with her mother’s client Gus (Jeremy Renner) and starts stalking him and trying to make a connection with him despite the fact he’s a good two decades older than her. Gus is in therapy to get past a tragedy from his past and through her stalking, Malee learns he’s a tragically broken person she wants to save.
(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)
Jacob has to deal with a birthmark spread across half his face. He starts spending time at the juvenile detention center visiting the boys responsible for his brother’s death after Malee suggests he get closure by telling them how he feels. He wants them to never forget what they did to his brother. He forges a relationships of sorts with one of the boys. When Jacob’s parents adopt, Jacob decides it’s time to make a big change in his life.
As Leonard, Malee and Jacob delve deeper into their pain, they spend less time together and progress toward climatic resolutions. This gripping movie surprised me. The kid characters, all in their early teens, grapple with dysfunction and do a brilliant job spotlighting their struggles. (I’m sure we will see more from these three actors.) Several twists and surprises make this one a definite must-add to your movie list.
Director: Michael Cuesta
Run time: 94 minutes