April 16, 2005 - by C-Part 2
I saw the film at LA's first showing at the Grove on Friday. I dragged along a friend, who is a director, for a little male perspective. I'm happy to say, he probably laughed even more than I did.
I'm not sure I can explain why this film touched me, but it did. I loved the visual moments: the connection between adult Tommy under the bed drawing, young Tommy under his mother's bed keeping her safe, the wrenching seen of young Tommy under the bed as his mother is dying.
I thought Duchovny handled his actors well. Erykah was wonderful. I thought she brought tremendous credibility to the part which could have been just a cliché, but instead felt authentic. Even the idea of having to push him away in order for Tommy to grow worked for me--clearly a sacrifice for someone who has embraced Tommy as a temporary fill-in for her own son who she can't be with now.
I've read many of the critical reviews regarding Robin Williams. I have to say that I don't really understand the response. I thought Robin gave an excellent, balanced performance. He could have gone overboard, but whether his own better instincts took hold, or Duchovny pulled him in, he didn't. Two moments for Robin were particularly moving to me: when he was telling Tommy to go and do good things and when he's talking to adult Tommy about how he and his father reconciled before his father died. For what it's worth, my friend couldn't understand the critical response to Robin's performance either.
And then there is Anton. What an incredible find! He's a gifted young actor, and he's going to be exciting to watch as he evolves.
More than the performances though, I think it's the central theme of having to sometimes go back in order to go forward that has remained with me. I think we all have moments where events have been painful or difficult to reconcile, so we bury them and try to use denial as a method of coping. But too often that paralyses us--keeping us emotionally in that place despite the passage of time. Certainly something to ponder when faced with obstacles that seem awfully familiar
The movie isn't without flaws, for instance, I really thought the voiceover at the beginning was unnecessary, and could have been explained with a line or two between the characters. I just don't think we needed that level of exposition.
HOWEVER, the elements I found problematic are minor. I would recommend this film to friends, and have. As the LA Times said, I hope this movie finds an audience because it deserves it.