Lebanon, PA

Film
2 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Philadelphia advertising exec Will (Hopkins) is having the kind of bad week that can make or break a man. His girlfriend walked out on him, his father died, and after he took too many personal days, his job is suddenly on the line. Which doesn't even get into the bar fight, the abortion or the affair with a married woman (Mathis); in other words, Will showed up for life and an indie film broke out. It all happens on a sojourn to suburban Lebanon, where he threatens to drop anchor in his father's vacated home---even though his nominally liberal values aren't particularly welcome.

Despite its wall-to-wall carpet of tension-neutralizing music, bland filmmaking style and thoroughly undistinguished dramatics, Lebanon, PA does at least depict its conflicts as fundamentally irresolvable, thus rendering this Job-like character as recognizably human. Even Rachel Kitson's pregnant sidekick CJ---a Christian neighbor's kid who's used as an easy emblem for social and spiritual victimhood---has enough undamaged curiosity that suggests a worthy heroine trapped inside the tired arc of some other dude's personal growth. The culture wars may be simmering throughout writer-director Ben Hickernell's script---the Save the Whales and pro-choice bumper stickers on Will's VW invite a brutal barfly beatdown---but the real casualties are momentum and narrative cohesion.

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