Directed By: James C. Strouse
Written By: James C. Strouse
Starring: John Cusack, Shelan O'Keefe, Gracie Bednarczyk
Upon hearing that his wife, a soldier in the US army, has been killed in the Iraq war, Stanley takes his two daughters on a road trip while attempting to figure out how to break the heartbreaking news to them.
I am a huge fan of John Cusack so I absolutely expected to enjoy watching him in this movie, and he didn't dissapoint. Infact, I was impressed and surprised to find that he raised the bar again in this movie! I thought his performance as a stuffy and unsure father of two young girls was fantastic, and a world away from the roles we're used to seeing him in.
The two young girl actors were also wonderful.
I felt that the director/writer handled the subject of conflicting view points on the war very well, and the fact that we never see Grace on the screen helps to focus our attention more on the effect of her life choices, and subsequently her tragic death, on her family .... rather than allowing us to feel that we should be greiving for her personally.
The movie is poignant in its many "little moments" of bonding and childhood joy as Stanley tries to give his daughters glimmers of hope and happiness by allowing them to do the fun things that they have always wanted to do, while all the while both he, and we as viewers, know that he will soon have to shatter their worlds with the news of their mothers death.
The movie handles this subject very well, and the little touches such as Dawn's desire to share her excitement and pride over her newly pierced ears with somebody elses mother in a store really go a long way to demonstrate the pain the children feel at being seperated from their mother. This leads to some very moving scenes between father and daughters as they begin to bond for the first time.
As the whole movie is basically leading up to Stanley finally breaking the news of their mothers death to his daughters, I felt it was almost a bit of a cop out that when this scene finally occurs - the dialogue is drowned out with music and so we don't hear the exchange.
Rating: 4 out of 5