The crisis in this adaptation of an Andre Dubus III novel hinges on non-payment of a property tax. If only recovering alcoholic Kathy (Connelly) had opened her mail, she would never have been evicted from her suburban California bungalow. Iranian exile Massoud Amir Behrani (Kingsley) would not have had the chance to pick it up for a song at auction. Kathy and Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon (Eldard) would never have got together. The whole sorry mess would have been averted. A Russian émigré himself, director and co-writer Perelman has fashioned a ponderous, tasteful film about rootlessness which only sparks to life around the edges, in Lester's screwed-up home life, or in the uncomprehending frustration of Behrani's wife (Aghdashlou). It's possible to appreciate the film's seriousness, the finely balanced sympathy it extends to the proud, opportunistic Iranian and the wretched, muddled American, but at the same time to reject the feel-bad drama's grim determinism. Perelman and his long-suffering stars make a spectacle of pain, but fail to register any lighter notes, while the denouement seems calculated to wring out every last tear.
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