Director Josh Boone’s slice of family drama quietly wins you over as he lifts the lid on a family of writers who have lost the plot with each other.
Whether any of it tells us anything about the writing process or the nature of inspiration is another matter. It probably doesn’t.
Instead the film offers the spectacle of a bunch of people who really ought to get along all rubbing each other up the wrong way. It’s that kind of film where your role as the viewer is to sit there and root for them, hoping that they will end up seeing what’s obvious to us, namely that there aren’t really terribly many obstacles to them all getting it together.
Three years after his divorce, acclaimed novelist Bill Borgens (Greg Kinnear – Little Miss Sunshine) is still obsessed with his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), even though she’s remarried. Cursed with writer’s block, he’s convinced that she’s going to come back to him, even laying a place for her at the table at Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, his idea of parenting is to pay his two teenage children an allowance so that they don’t have to get part-time jobs and therefore have the time to pursue the writing dreams which have turned to nightmare for him.
Daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) is a first-class stropper stiill furious with Erica for apparently abandoning the family. She gets her revenge with a publishing deal for her debut novel which hangs all the dirty laundry out to dry. Meanwhile, her younger brother Rusty (Nat Wolff) is so determined to be the next Stephen King that King, in the film’s bizarrest scene, phones him up to offer encouragement. For neither, however, is literature the real answer. For both, it comes with their first tentative fumblings at boyfriend/girlfriend, both gaining a new partner with varying degrees of success.
Maybe the best performance, however, comes from Connelly, superb as the mother desperate to bridge the chasm between her and her daughter. It’s Connelly at her best in an absorbing movie.