Saturday, February 25, 2012
Fireflies in the Garden
Ryan Reynolds Emily Watson Hayden Panettiere
Carrie-Ann Moss Willem Dafoe Ioan Gruffudd and Julia Roberts
Everyone who knows me, knows I love sitting down to a nice dysfunctional family drama and/or comedy. I first came across Fireflies in the Garden a couple months ago when the trailer appeared on the Yahoo movies page. I knew this was a movie that was right up my alley. Also, as you can see from my list above, this film has quite an impressive cast. But have you ever noticed that these sorts of movies, the dysfunctional family all getting together for a holiday or tragedy plots always has an impressive cast? Some examples: Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone, Eulogy, Little Miss Sunshine, This Christmas, Death at a Funeral.
Fireflies in the Garden follows the Taylor family, past and present. The film begins with the family coming together to celebrate the matriarch's, Lisa Taylor (Julia Roberts), late-in-life college graduation, when a major tragedy strikes. We are introduced to the abusive Taylor patriarch, Charles, who is portrayed in all his nasty glory by Willem Dafoe, a man who shines in these sorts of roles and did again in this role. Then there is the eldest Taylor son, Michael, played beautifully and with so much soul by Ryan Reynolds. Michael's aunt and also Lisa's younger sister, Jane (Emily Watson), is very intricate to the plot which follows the Taylor family, not only in the present day, but flashes back to one particularly stressful summer when Jane is visiting her sister. In the flashbacks, Hayden Panettiere plays young Jane and for the first time, I see real dramatic chops in this actress. She exudes all the dread and sorrow needed for her small, but pivotal role.
Now, this movie was made in 2008 but, because of reasons unknown to me, was released straight to DVD in February 2012. I wish I could have a why oh why conversation with the person in charge of that decision because there was some serious award winning performances in this movie. However, I have to choose two stand-outs: Emily Watson and a serious tour-de-force performance from Julia Roberts. I haven't seen that much intensity from her since Erin Brockovich. Ryan Reynolds proves once again that he can win in a dramatic role (please rent Buried!).
Fireflies in the Garden, which get it's title from the Robert Frost poem of the same name, is a fine American drama. The film shows a seriously broken family, trying to piece its self back together, not only after this one tragedy but after decades of cracks and breakage. The acting is flawless, the writing and storytelling is intense. However, from the middle to the end, the movie starts to wane a little. It is still a great drama, but the hold it had on me in the first 30 to 45 minutes started to loosen. But I still highly recommend this film, if for anything, to see some powerhouse performances by a powerhouse cast. If anything, the Taylor family will make your own family seem far less broken.
Thank you and see you at the next blog.