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February 16, 2013

Cinequest 2009


Last night I had the great pleasure of seeing Lifelines, directed by Rob Margolies. I picked this movie because Jane Adams is my Indie Queen and I always love anything she’s in (including 11 episodes of “Frasier”). Lifelines is the story of the Bernstein family, and for the first 6.2 seconds they appear to be the Perfect Family, in the Perfect House, on the Perfect Street. But like the Todd Solondz movies this film is so reminiscent of, things are much different behind closed doors. Daughter Meg sneaks boys into her room to spend the night. Teenage son Michael has a painful stuttering problem. Mother Bernstein, played in the performance of a lifetime by Jane Adams, is a caffeine addict and verbally mistreated by all three of her children. The dysfunction in this family becomes even more apparent when the entire family goes to a family counseling appointment, youngest child arriving in handcuffs after escaping the car and making a run for it. This family meeting has convened so that the parents can announce their impending divorce, which comes as absolutely no surprise to their children. Ah, but the reason for the divorce? Dad has discovered he is gay and is carrying on an affair with mom’s co-worker Mr. Hennessey.

All the way up to this announcement the laughs are plentiful and they are out loud guffaws. But as the counselor brings each family member into an individual session, even darker secrets are uncovered. The youngest son was raped by a male neighbor when he was five and never told anyone. The oldest son saw what happened and wasn’t able to help, thus initiating the stuttering. The mother turns out to be just what her daughter has been complaining about all along: a stark-raving lunatic bitch.

The acting of everyone involved in this film was amazing. Jane Adams ranges from her usual meek, incompetent, loser character to a psychotic, screaming, belittling mother from Hell. The teenage daughter, played by “Gossip Girl’s” Dreama Walker, is a wonderfully expressive actress, and so gorgeously beautiful that she was sometimes distracting in her background scenes. And Jacob Kogan, who you have seen playing the creepy title character in 2007’s Joshua, was amazing as the precocious young son. You’ll be seeing him again soon playing young Dr. Spock in the new Star Trek movie. What amazed me most was when 26 year old writer/director Rob Margolies walked out on stage. A KID did this? I would have bet a million dollars that Todd Solondz had directed this film, but it was all Rob who wrote the story and coaxed such striking performances from Jane Adams and the rest of the young cast.

It was simply an amazing film; those of you missed it missed something really good.

Unbelievably I cannot find any way to view this movie now. This is incomprehensible to me. If anyone ever locates it on DVD or the internet, SEE IT, and tell me where.

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