(Drama) Ever since the premature death of his father, Duncan (Joshua Jackson) has been content with drifting aimlessly through life. When he takes a job in order to be near his ill grandfather (Sutherland) and grandmother... more » (Fletcher), he begins to find purpose. The newfound sense of being needed, plus a budding romance with Kate (Lewis), begins to change Duncan profoundly.« less
Fine Ensemble Acting in a Quiet, Powerful Little Film
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AURORA BOREALIS is a superb film by James Burke ('In Dark Places' and 'Tis a Gift to Be Simple') from a story by Brent Boyd ('The Green Room' and 'Crazy') and if this film is a sample of how these two fine talents collaborate, we can only hope for more. The cast assembled for this movie gives evidence that the actors deeply admire their vision: it is well deserved.
The setting is winter in Minneapolis, the hometown of the Shorter family: Grandfather Ronald (Donald Sutherland), Grandmother Ruth (Louise Fletcher), and the two grandsons Duncan (Joshua Jackson) and Jacob (Steven Pasquale). The boys' father died at age 39 (10 years prior to the opening of the story) and both boys grew up on their own, feeling deserted by a father who had been a cocaine abuser at one time. Duncan had been a champion hockey player, but when his father died his goals diminished and he has been in and out of odd jobs without a solid look at his future. Jacob runs a nursing home business and when he is not working, he is bringing his girlfriends to Duncan's flat for trysts. Duncan cares for his grandfather Ronald who has multiple illnesses (Parkinson's Disease, dementia) yet who maintains a humble life with Ruth. As Ronald's condition deteriorates, Duncan takes a handyman's job in the complex where his grandparents live and during this time the two men bond more closely than ever: Ronald's fading mind sees northern lights from his apartment window and Duncan out of love and growing understanding lets him believe they are real. Ronald is aware of his mental instability and lets Duncan know that he would like to take his life with a shotgun, an idea Duncan prevents.
Ronald and Ruth have a health care provider Kate (Juliette Lewis) whom they trust and love and encourage Duncan to seek out as a partner. Kate and Duncan date and fill the wide gaps in each other's personalities, yet when the opportunity comes for Kate to move to sunny San Diego, she is unable to make Duncan budge from his safe routine existence in Minneapolis. But as Duncan's resistance is broken down (he learns from a mentor that his father did not die of cocaine abuse, Ronald dies a natural death, etc), he views Kate as the person who can alter his outlook and his life.
Every member of this cast is extraordinary: Donald Sutherland creates a man eaten by Parkinson's Disease and dementia without ever becoming a caricature, Louise Fletcher reminds us how self-effacing her acting has always been, Juliette Lewis turns in one of her most sensitive roles, and Joshua Jackson finds every nuance of the troubled but needy Duncan and engages our empathy. Each of the smaller rolls is likewise pitch perfect, no doubt due in large part to the sensitive direction of Burke. It is so refreshing to watch a film as meaningful in message and in skillful acting as this, a movie that restores our confidence in film as art. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 07 "
Great intergenerational film
Troodles | Minnesota | 05/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Good film for younger and older adults. Many different stories going on within the movie which keeps people interested. Excellent acting."
A wonderful film about life and family...
car1fsu | Valley Village, CA United States | 04/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just love this movie. The film isn't manipulative or preachy, it just tells a story and tells it well and manages to make you care about every single character, which is quite an accomplishment. This is James Burke's first film, and I hope he makes many more because he is a talent. He has quite a way with actors (he got a great performance out of everyone, even the smallest characters) and a great sense of tone and control. He also was able to balance the humor of the script with the pathos, and never make it feel forced.
The performances are subtle yet perfectly spot on, with the standouts being Joshua Jackson and Donald Sutherland. This is a true leading man role for Jackson, and takes him beyond just being "Pacey" into being a great, adult actor. Donald Sutherland is also a revelation, and their acting chemistry is fantastic.
If you like films about real characters and real emotions, you should see this movie -- you won't be disappointed."
Better than I could have hoped for
U2fan | Las Vegas | 05/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have to admit that I bought this movie because of my Joshua Jackson crush. I am happy to admit that this movie is so good! The acting in it is great, it is shot beautifully and the story line is engaging. I highly recommend this movie."
Rickster333 | Florida | 01/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can relate to Sutherland's role as a bitter old man with Parkinson's. My father is in this very condition and the Donald plays it perfectly. This could not have been an easy part for him. All the acting was supurb for that matter. Excellent film, my wife and I highly recommend.
If this movie touched you, also try 'Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont'."