Review Date: August 25, 2002
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Producers: David Waters, Amy Sommer
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!