Flimsy dialogue and fickle characters undercut the weighty historical demons in this fractured family portrait of three generations of men dealing with their emotional scars. Zak (Sauli) is the well-intentioned, emotionally distant son, a busy urbanite who cringes when he’s beckoned home to address his father’s declining mental health. At the family’s Catskills oasis, Zak and his pregnant girlfriend (Parisse) find the fiftysomething paterfamilias, Warren (Pressman), angrily mumbling to himself; Dad is eager to guide his son’s sweetheart through the forest but quick to slap Zak across the face when he dares bring up the past.
The Holocaust and the hellish memories from Warren’s childhood, it seems, have poisoned his life. This broken man sits in the woods and grapples with a life lost, before finally hopping the train to New York to confront his own elderly father (Eli Wallach) about these enduring nightmares. In his debut, writer-director Jeremy Davidson has the heart for a reconciliation drama—but not the words. Conversations trail off into angry eruptions and abrupt exits, and Warren’s mental ailments disappear and reemerge whenever the script necessitates. The anxiety feels a little forced, even as the film recognizes the agony that ripples out from wartime to future generations.—S. James Snyder