27 décembre 2006

The Family Stone

This week I seem to keep stumbling across Hollywood movies that have a surprising elegance of story and form. The first of these - and the biggest surprise thus far - was catching The Family Stone. Based on the trailer, I had expected the trite condescension of the 'nutty family' holiday movie. I was pleasantly surprised instead to watch an affecting family drama with finely drawn characters and a number of concurrent (sub)plotlines. The film holds its audience in high esteem, delivering information subtly. And while I wouldn't classify this as a "great" film, it was one of the better non-blockbuster films I've seen out of Hollywood in some time. In many ways it felt more like an accessibly artful Sundance movie than like the goofy family comedy I expected... It's hard to talk about the things that made it seem real and artful without giving away the surprising intelligence in the film, but let me just say that (with one scene of exception) the film is not just smarter than I expected, but smarter than most of it's peers - 'Sundance' films included. Characters don't adhere to the Hollywood shorthand of falling in love on sight, nor is there an unsympathetic character - though they're all flawed, and human. The final scene around the Christmas tree is very nearly perfect. Kudos to Thomas Bezucha for his excellent film. Recommended viewing for those who think Hollywood's been missing something for a while now. I guess I'll have to see Big Eden, now, too.