For this rites-of-passage drama, screenwriter Jenny Wingfield draws on personal recollections; but while she brings intelligence to the depiction of teen angst, her attempt to follow formula means that the heart-warming tone steadily becomes overheated. It's the late '50s, and 14-year-old Dani (Witherspoon) is on the verge of major discoveries about sex and family ties. There's a handsome new boy (London) in the neighbourhood who leaves both Dani and her older sister (Warfield) weak-kneed. As though uncertain of her material's quiet strengths, Wingfield resolves this tension and follows it up with a clichéd love scene, tear-jerking tragedy, and a chastening heart-to-heart on Dad's boat. More consistent are the fine performances which Mulligan draws from his cast: Harper as the level-headed mother, Waterston as the taciturn father, and Witherspoon in a striking debut.