The Healing of a Broken Family
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 10/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Ann and Lee divorce, Lee takes his son, Daniel, and Ann raises the 3 girls, supporting them by driving a school bus, while Lee and Daniel move around the country, losing all contact with the family as years go by. The film starts with Ann having a mild heart attack, and while hospitalized, she wants to know what has happened to her son, and asks her daughters to track Daniel down. A collision of emotions and cultural differences are the result of this search, with years of hurt and many misunderstandings rising to the surface.
Written by Davidlee Wilson, who stars as Daniel, some of the scenes are over the top (the bridal showers scene for instance, though it is nevertheless quite hilarious), but most of the dialogue is very real and poignant, and the brilliant ensemble cast makes the most of it. Excellent are Tyne Daly as Ann, Maria Sucharetza as the flamboyant, slightly trampy Diane, Marceline Hugot as the down-to-earth mother of 4 Donna, Jack Davidson as Lee, and Lisa Keller as the woman Daniel is going to marry. It is Ally Sheedy as the tough, outspoken Deb, full of deep resentment for a father she has always felt abandoned her, that shines above all, and makes this little film special, and at times a wrenching experience.
Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and directed by Steven Maler, "The Autumn Heart" will resonate with people who have experienced the breakdown of a family, where communication has been replaced with confusion and silence. Bravo to this fine cast of actors, who make their characters live, and draw the viewer into the story, often with tears and laughter.
"Powerful movie about the effects of divorce on adults"
Joanne A. Garland | Midwest, USA | 02/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This ia a movie that deals with the effects of divorce in a powerful way. Everybody knows the effects of divorce on a child. But this movie explores the effects on children who are now adults. It centers around three sisters (Ally Sheedy, Marla Sucharetza, Marceline Hugot) who decide to grant what becomes their mother's last wish: locating their long-lost brother (Davidlee Willson). They find him studying at Harvard. But before bringing him to meet his mother (Tyne Daly) they decided to get acquainted with him first. They have no grudges against him, but Deb (Ally Sheedy) has plenty of anger at her father for having supposedly, abandoned his family. Ally Sheedy gives a performance worthy of an Oscar, complete with a phony accent. Deb's anger at her father apparently has escalated over the years, and she rants and raves at him, without allowing him to tell his side of the story, which reminds us that there are two sides to every divorce. Only after her mother dies does she learn the truth. The scene towards the end where father and daughter are emotionally reconciled is touching, powerful and heartbreaking, and further proof that Ally deserved an Oscar. Now Deb's anger is directed at her deceased mother, for not having told her the truth. This movie serves as a lesson that we should be honest with our children no matter their age. And if secrets are taken to the grave not much can be resolved for the living. This DVD has nothing in terms of special features but don't let that stop you from seeing this profound movie. It will be worth it."
Very moving Movie, worth the watch
BleuHoney | R S, WY | 09/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has a lot of "heart", it portrays families at their best and worst. Each character can be found in most families, the movie caused much laughter and tears. Very Good, Worth the watch!!"
Emotional, funny independent family drama
Sanpete | in Utah | 10/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tyne Daly is the blue-collar mother of three grown, distinctly blue-collar daughters, each strong in her own way (and loud--the setting is Boston). Ill and apparently thinking she may soon die, Daly asks her daughters to find their brother who left with his father at age six, sixteen years earlier. The sisters are initially resistant, feeling their father abandoned them, and are even less pleased when they learn their brother is studying at Harvard, but they agree for their mother's sake to make contact. Turns out father and son have done very well and become very white-collar while the women have remained not so well off.
The narration at the beginning made me think this might be a preachy film about the evils of divorce, and there are elements of that, some even delivered by a preacher. But the bulk of the film is more about a clash of cultures, sisterly and other family relations, and reconciliations. The story unwinds somewhat in the fashion of a mystery, though a good deal of what we might expect to learn never comes to light.
The cultural differences are a source of tension and comedy, with one sister in particular, flamboyant and irrepressible, bringing humor to almost every appearance. Though all the acting is strong, Ally Sheedy, as the most bitter sister, remains central by her place in the script and the intensity of her acting, which some have found to be overdone, others to be a tour de force.
Much of the drama is open to such a division of response by viewers: it's seen as contrived, predictable, superficial, maudlin, or as real, unpredictable, with genuine heart. I think there is ample ground for all of those reactions. The film won the audience favorite award at the Nantucket Film Festival but was panned by some critics. I find Sheedy an engaging screen presence and was drawn in by her portrayal. The film did remind me of some "family-friendly" films but was harsher and edgier at times. It's marked by several emotional outbursts and resolutions that will make some cry and others cringe. Not everything rang true to me, but most was true enough, and I generally enjoyed it.
The DVD presents a full-frame version. Though unrated, there is not much that would raise attention with a rating board: some swearing, occasional drunkenness, smoking, a little casual drug use. Oh, and a fairly chaste male strip tease. It would probably rate PG-13. The script was written by the actor who plays the brother."