All marriages have their speed bumps, but as Jake Scott's character drama makes clear immediately, the Rileys have ensured themselves a place in the quietly dysfunctional, middle-aged screen-couple hall of shame. Doug (Gandolfini) is cut off from everything but his weekly poker game and a dalliance with a local waffle-house waitress. His wife, Lois (Leo), is a mousy agoraphobe likely to jump out of her skin should folks speak above a whisper. There's also the elephant-in-the-room matter of their late daughter, whose absence haunts every interaction. Really, what could save this battered union, except perhaps a distressed teen stripper (Stewart) whom Doug kindly takes under his wing at a business convention in New Orleans?
The scene is set for an eventual round of three-way therapy, though it's to Scott and screenwriter Ken Hixon's credit that easy outs and tidy emotional tie-ups aren't part of their plan. Still, sprinkling in a few ambiguities doesn't make this let-the-healing-begin story any less formulaic, or take away the feeling that it was conceived more as an actor's showcase rather than any sort of comment on the human condition. Both Gandolfini and Stewart shrug off the baggage of being tied to other iconic roles, though neither adds much to their parts; only Leo, always a dependable supporting actor, turns her character into something resembling a three-dimensional person. Watching her tentatively reconnect with her maternal instincts is a welcome surprise. Everything else here just feels like another descent into mediocre Amerindie miserablism.
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See also The Hot Seat