Director: Scott Smith
Although based on a novel, Scott Smith’s Canadian film about a dysfunctional family in the 1960’s Cold War era (referenced in a clever tag-line as a “nuclear family”) seems to be most likely cinematically inspired by Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides. However, the film is more concerned with its eccentricities and generating a feeling than actually getting us involved in the plot. The film, erroneously described as a dark comedy, is actually a quite sad one. It seems that in retrospect, the good old days weren’t always as good or as innocent as we like to imagine. The film follows three very different sisters struggling to come of age in a pre-feminist, pre-hippie era—the eldest one tries to hold things together, the middle child is predictably the rebel and the youngest is the sweet, beautiful but most vulnerable of the lot as she falls under the spell of a creepy older man. Miranda Richardson is underused as the mentally ill mother of the girls, who, after suffering a tragedy has never fully recovered and their father overcompensates for the mother’s silence with tyranny and harsh proclamations. Above all, the film works for fans of Coppola’s work, and although it’s not in her league, its portrait of a time and place would be of interest to feminist scholars and those who enjoy the popular but overly crowded “dysfunctional family” genre.