Fireflies in the Garden

Film
1 out of 5 stars
Fireflies in the Garden

Time Out says

1 out of 5 stars

It had an all-star cast---including one of the most recognizably famous toothy grins on the planet---a narrative that sounded like pure book-club-night-out catnip and a prestigious slot at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival. So why, exactly, has it taken more than three years and countless postponed release dates for writer-director Dennis Lee's family melodrama to hit screens? You can speculate all you want. But somewhere between Julia Roberts getting into a car accident while wearing old-age makeup and a bearded Ryan Reynolds officially exceeding the per-film quota for wistful looks into the distance, a thought will occur: Maybe, just maybe, it's because someone out there realized what a completely incoherent mess they had on their hands.

Clearly, this indie handwringer about a writer (Reynolds) returning home, his abusive dad (Dafoe) and the gallons of bad blood between them was made with every intention of being a significant (and apparently, [Gulp] semiautobiographical) statement about letting go of the past. All of which makes its self-consciously art-inflected gestures and total inability to weave narrative strands together---a marital affair seems added as an afterthought; a damning secret between a boy and his aunt is coyly suggested then totally forgotten---that much more of a complete head-scratcher. It's a tragedy, in all of the wrong ways.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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