With the likes of ‘Open Hearts’ and ‘Brothers’, Danish director Bier achieved the very special trick of presenting melodramatic situations with such piercing directness we forgot their contrivances. Not difficult to see how this might appeal to Hollywood, yet her studio début suffers from the pitfall her best work has thus far avoided, a soggy self-awareness rendering the conflicts on screen into the stuff of ‘sensitive prestige drama’.
Actually, if you were trying to write a film aiming at surefire acting nominations, it would probably look something like this. Halle Berry gets to do grief-stricken stoicism as a mother of two who’s just lost saintly property developer husband David Duchovny. Benicio Del Toro has a crack at a recovering junkie, as the late husband’s best pal shocked into changing his ways.
Both of them have sundry bonding-with-children highlights, when Berry invites said dopefiend to live in their garage .Funnily enough, the way the children (Alexis Llewellyn and Micah Berry) adapt to the changing situation is the most persuasive thing in the movie, which is dogged by a spirit-sappingly predictable storyline, and a lot of over-familiar guff about ‘letting go’ and ‘moving on’.
Throughout Berry strains too hard for effect, while Del Toro’s wide-eyed, sticky-up-hair routine is also wearing thin. It all looks suspiciously like a film with one eye on the awards season, and though not exactly negligible, has just been rewarded with zero Oscar nominations.