A Powerful and Compelling Film
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 06/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A young teenaged boy has a gun in his hand, tears in his eyes, and pulls the trigger. This is the alarming image we encounter at the beginning of DANDELION. It captures our attention and keeps it throughout the entire film. We want to know what happens, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.
DANDELION is the story of Mason Mullich, a young man living a lackluster life in the wheat belt. We get a sense his life is going nowhere. His only friend Eddie is the younger brother of a drug addict who tortures the two. His mother Layla is an alcoholic and his father Luke is a Willie Lowman-esque type who believes he's bigger than his small life. Things begin to change for the better for Mason when a young woman named Danny moves to the town but positive changes get quickly thwarted when Mason finds himself being charged for a crime he did not commit. Things once again improve for Mason who begins to know love through his relationship with Danny, but the film ends with an unexpected tragedy.
In the hands of some actors, DANDELION could be either deadly or cliché. A strong cast keeps this from happening. Vincent Kartheiser gives a compelling performance as Mason. He is at times edgy and at other times innocent. We believe he experiences first love and feel for him in his loss. We wonder how someone who is constantly used and betrayed can still be so loving and forgiving, but Kartheiser makes it all believable. Mare Winningham as Layla, Mason's troubled mother is believable. In some ways she seems to be perfect when she's cast as a mistreated woman. Arliss Howard is well cast as Luke, Mason's father. We wonder how he can live with himself, yet he does and while we can revile him at times, we do feel some sympathy. Taryn Manning is well cast as Danny. Her character may not be the best developed in the film (the women can be caricatures at times), she does have a certain sweetness which makes us feel for her and understand why Mason is drawn to her. This is the first film for director Mark Milgard and it's an excellent effort. There are some symbols used in the film that are not fleshed out to their fullest potential, and there are a few loose ends that can leave more questions than answers, but overall it's a great story and good effort.
A Beautiful Film
Joshua Miller | Coeur d'Alene,ID | 07/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Love stories about teenagers (although the people in this movie are more like...18, which still makes them a teenager but whatever) are usually pretty bad. In fact, almost all of them are. Rarely does a movie come around that really captures any of the emotion or raw angst of young love. Don't get me wrong, there are some...But few. This movie does that in it's own weird way. It's disturbing, haunting, beautiful, poignant, and true. And that's freaking talent, OK? Vincent Kartheiser ('Another Day in Paradise') plays Mason, a silent teenager who keeps to himself and watches his parents fight constantly and watch his uncle sink into an abyss probably caused by Vietnam. One day Mason meets Danny (Taryn Manning, 'Hustle & Flow') and it affects him. But then an accident takes Mason away for a couple years; when he returns, nothing is really different and Danny is still in town. She reveals to him that she's thought about him, the feeling's mutual and two begin to date. Add more some more tragedy and a wonderful semi-ending, you have "Dandelion." Since this won't give away anything, in the very beginning of the movie we're treated to an opening scene with Mason walking through a field before putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. This scene works and yet it doesn't. It prepares you for the worst, but then in the next 15 minutes the scene is repeated twice giving us the feeling that Mason may be imagining it. It does work as a way of telling you "This is not a happy-feel good movie." But at the same time, it drops a few hints. Mason's killing himself? Something bad must happen...Could it be? Hmm. A lot of people may figure out the end, but that really doesn't matter. The last young love story I saw that was this good was "All the Real Girls" (although that film was far superior), even though both films are completely different while tackling almost the same subject matter. Although, for the record, there are no (even possibly imagined) suicides in "All the Real Girls." Anyway, that film definitely captured conversations, fascinations, and quirks about young love; and this film is definitely...Well, a movie. They both tackle the subject in an intelligent, poignant way. Some of the dialogue between Mason and Danny is a little too movieish, and Danny's character needed more screen time. But, and I know I'm repeating myself, this a beautiful film that deserves an audience.
Compelling, beautiful, profound
J. COLBY | Santa Cruz, CA USA | 10/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was fortunate to see this film at the 2003 San Francisco Independent Film Festival. It was remarked that this film slipped through the cracks of Hollywood, but would never make it to video because it was too good. For those reading this review, consider yourself fortunate. This film is beautifully profound. The reviewer who wrote that it is a knock-off of a tired genre is absolutely wrong.
Cinematically this film is a stunner. The script is unpredictable, therefore interesting. The conflict between father and son, finally resolved, is nicely tense. So is the conflict between his parents. Mason is a compelling character; after his return from detention he seems to have a Buddha-like mind. This serenity contrasts starkly with the other characters.
Not trite at all. Watch this one."
Boomkat On A Dandelion
Terrance P. Barnes | Charlotte, NC | 02/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm the type of person that watches movies only to look at certain actresses or actors. Taryn Manning to me is one of the most beautiful people on the planet. Raw attitude, raw acting, raw emotions, raw songbird... The girl is dynamite; I bought this movie cause it wasn't one of her scary flicks. I'm a pretty open minded individual really, so I watched the movie with an open mind. Never did I think, once again, a movie with a limited sound track would catch me so. I'm just used to finding some relativity behind music and a feature. But once the sond finally hit me upon the final sunset scene; this movie made the connection from the beginning to the end. Dandelion is a clear picture into a teenage heart break. Everyone delivers, but Taryn Manning brings it to life for me. Cloud nine from the first moment I bought it to the ending credits; this movie is worth the wait, the length and the attention. Mark Milgard knows what he is doing... Tracy Kaplan the casting director, knows what she's doing..."