Mark Twain | 05/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Blue Car is a daring motion picture, and a brilliant one at that. It captures the pain and hardships of its character beautifully.The film takes us into the teenage psyche of Meg, a gifted but emotionally scarred 18-year-old. Haunted by her father's abandonment of the family, she is neglected by her overworked mother and left to her own devices in dealing with her emotionally disturbed younger sister. Meg finds solace in writing poetry. Mr. Auster, her English teacher, recognizes her talent and steps into the role of mentor and father figure, encouraging her to enter a national poetry contest for which he is a judge. As tension at home escalates and Meg struggles to find a way to get to the poetry finals in Florida, Auster's role in her life becomes increasingly complex, and takes a dangerous turn.The writing and directing are most certainly impressive, and while the entire cast give amazing performances, the real standout is Angnes Bruckner with her jaw-dropping turn as Meg. Bruckner is an amazement, piercing the heart without begging for sympathy. She delivers whatis truly one of the best peformances of the year. This small gem of a movie is the perfect setting for her breakthrough performance. Blue Car is disturbing and powerful. It sucks you right in and refuses to let go, with shocking results. It is definitely an addicting, offbeat, and meloncholic romance that deserves to be seen."
"You Can Go Deeper"
Richard Stoehr | Bremerton, WA USA | 12/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The featured review quote on the cover of "Blue Car" compares the film (favorably) to "American Beauty." This tells me two things: the reviewer in question didn't watch the film very carefully, and the distributor didn't know how to market it. With films of this quality, neither of these things is exactly a rare occurrence.
"Blue Car" is an extremely unique film, and nothing on the front or back covers of the DVD does much to prepare you for it. I was expecting a completely different movie, and so the story wound up sideswiping me, taking me by surprise and leaving me an emotional wreck when it was over. It's an honest, unflinching film, with a clarity of feeling lacking in many more clever movies.
The film is the story of Meg, a suburban latchkey kid with a mother who's always working, a father who rarely makes the child support payments, and a younger sister who's a world all unto herself. Meg has aspirations to be a writer, to express herself and make her voice heard, and a teacher who might be willing to help her. If it sounds trite or predictable, then think again. My short description is where the movie starts out; where it goes from there will keep you watching irresistably the whole way through, and I guarantee you'll be surprised and moved by the end of it. Meg's story is that of many girls as they grow into their fondest wishes, full of the hope, the disappointment, and the rage that comes along for the ride.
The movie is told in strikingly simple, unflashy visuals and natural dialogue. The acting is all top-notch, with believeable, honest (I keep using that word) performances from all concerned, including David Straithairn as Meg's teacher, an actor who I always enjoy seeing. His role in particular will keep you guessing all the way to the end. The music chosen and composed for the film serves it well, enhancing and augmenting the scenes without distracting from them. Two Lori Carson songs are especially effective in this regard.
In a way, I can see why the reviewer compared "Blue Car" to "American Beauty" -- one element of both stories is superficially similar. But the core of the story of "Blue Car" is so completely different, and its overall effect so distant from that of "American Beauty," that I find the comparison rather disappointing. Anybody reading that review will be expecting something very different than the movie "Blue Car" turned out to be. "American Beauty" was encouraging the viewer to "look closer" and to think about what they saw. In "Blue Car," we are repeatedly entreated to "go deeper" and to face the feelings we find at the center of the film. "Blue Car" contains a raw emotional intensity and honesty that is extremely rare in modern film, and this alone makes the film a worthy journey to take.
Challenge yourself a little. Watch "Blue Car" and go deeper."
This woman knows how to drive
K. Reynolds | Norfolk, VA USA | 10/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the great American myths is the one about choices, that there always is one. Another is that you can be anything you want to be with a bit of effort. Reality blasts the fairytales in "Blue Car."This debut film from writer-director Karen Moncrieff is brilliant. Like the poetry of its lead character, the script is pared to its essentials. Even the score by Adam Gorgoni and Stuart Spencer-Nash is sparse, a melodic whisper with rock underpinnings. The family has been deserted by the father who drove off, we are told, in a blue car. Meg, played by Agnes Bruckner, walks the edge of adulthood long before she should. She cares for her troubled sister, Lily, and for her mother, Diane, an over-burdened woman trying to do the right thing without any help. Regan Arnold and Margaret Colin underplay the roles respectively. Arnold's Lily is a haunting presence throughout; she sticks with you long after the film is over. Colin gives a great performance as a woman coping with one setback after the other. She looks to Meg for support as she makes plans for a new job, vents at her when things go wrong, and attempts to parent the girl when crisis develops. Yet as much as they may long for it, the mother-daughter relationship has dissolved long ago.Ultimately, this is Meg's story and we see the film unfold through her point of view. She copes by writing poetry. Her teacher, Mr. Auster, played by David Strathairn, challenges her to learn more about herself, to put more of herself in her work. Meg soon begins to look to Auster for emotional support. In winning his approval, she wins a place for herself -- but is it the place she wants to be? There are no easy answers. Coming of age films usually work better for male characters with films like "Stand By Me." But female characters have improved with recent entries like "Ghost World," "My First Mister" and, now, "Blue Car." Moncrieff doesn't pull back from uncomfortable material, yet she doesn't sensationalize it. Meg's blue car may be an icon of despair, but it is also a symbol of hope. This storyteller knows how to drive.Video and audio are just fine. Extras include deleted scenes. They all work and add to the story, but it gives you an idea of how Moncrieff edited her work to its essentials. Listen to Moncrieff's feature length commentary for an engaging retrospective on how the film was made."
Driven By Honest Emotions
Martin A Hogan | San Francisco, CA. (Hercules) | 04/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Meg (Agnes Bruckner) is a depressed teenager caring for a troubled younger sister and a neglectful, selfish single mother. When her teacher (David Strathairn) notices her poetry talents, Agnes is given the self-esteem she so sorely lacks. The well-written plot follows Meg and Mr. Austers' relationship slowly develop in a cautious manner. When Meg is encouraged by Mr. Auster to enter a poetry contest in Florida, her enthusiasm is countered with family tragedy and personal emotional conflict. The two characters find subtle solace in odd things they have in common and the easy emotional support they give each other. These are complex characters given real-life situations. The emotions are real and the script and acting never gives in to banality or cliché. It is a heart-tugging treat to see the growth occur in every character, although at different levels and speeds. The conclusion is so full of honesty; it's difficult to blame anyone for their human follies in this melancholy piece of Americana. Writer-Director Karen Moncrieff's first feature film is marvelous.Note: The deleted scenes don't add much to this DVD, but the Director's commentary is extremely insightful and heartfelt."