Blue Car (2002)
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Review Date: August 25, 2002
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Producers: David Waters, Amy Sommer
Agnes Bruckner
David Strathairn
Margaret Colin
A shy high school girl with a troubled little sister and a busy, single mom receives great attention from her teacher who believes that she has the talent to become a brilliant poet. Reluctantly entering herself into a writing competition with his encouragement, the girl is simultaneously faced with various new life hurdles. Drama ensues.
I suppose that many film festivals are around nowadays to showcase movies like this one; the smaller, independent, character-driven pieces which don't weigh in with monstrous budgets or stars, but bring home the harsher realities of people living day to day, whilst providing just enough insight and hope, to make it more than just a worthwhile experience for the viewer. Reminiscent of another great character flick that I saw at the Montreal Film Festival a couple of years ago entitled YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, I saw this one at the 2002 edition, and thankful was I that I finally caught a movie which not only kept me interested the whole way, but also managed to drag me right into the midst of its dramatic shake-and-bake (the two previous films that I saw at the festival sucked). This isn't the kind of movie that will bowl anyone over looking for excitement, a quick pace or easy solutions, but if three-dimensional characters, a well-rounded screenplay, doomed love, neediness and dramatic insight into the lives of folks trying to get by in life, "do it" for you, this film is sure to stimulate you, as it did me. If you wanna describe the film in an eggshell, it's basically the "coming of age" story of a young girl who appears to have the skills to become a successful poet, and a teacher who encourages her. But as other films of its sort, it's much deeper than that. It's about humanity, dammit! As we watch the girl interact with her mom, her sister, her friends and the teacher, we learn more and more about her, and as each character develops its own resonant persona, it isn't long before we too get involved in their world.

Much of that has to do with the pace and writing of the film (the screenplay won the 1998 AMPAS Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship, one of the most coveted North American writing awards), both of which are handled idyllically for this subject matter, but they're also accompanied by solid performances by its cast, all of whom enrich the whole. Agnes Bruckner is especially effective as the troubled teen who has to go through various ups and downs throughout the picture, and truly manages to bring a genuine reality to her character's confused and melancholic nature. David Strathairn is also perfectly cast as the mentor/teacher who sees "something" in this girl, while he too, ultimately turns out to have his own personal issues to work out as well. That's one of the things that I enjoyed most about this film and that's how each character seemed to truly exist on their own, and with plenty of depth to boot. Bruckner's mom, played by Margaret Colin, was yet another well-rounded character, the perfect example of a single mom trying her best to balance all of the different responsibilities in her own life, while attempting to stay sane all the while (just like in real life, it was difficult to find a black/white answer to any of their issues-it was all pretty grey and each character had believable reasons for doing/saying what they did).

In the end, the film managed to enrapture me emotionally, surprise me with several twists that I didn't see coming and ultimately, engage me with its real characters, insightful script and fitting conclusion. I guess it can be said that we've seen enough "coming of age" and "chick flicks" to last a dozen lifetimes (although this one definitely isn't "happy-go-lucky" as many of the others-no catchy nostalgic 50s tunes here), but I always find that as long as a picture manages to create a realistic and interesting environment in which I can remain engaged for a couple of hours...sign me up, cause that's what movies are all about!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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