Australia, 2009, 92 minutes, Colour.
Geena Davis, Harrison Gilbertson, Harry Cook, Joel Tobeck, Sébastian Gregory.
Directed by Andrew Lancaster.
A strange mixture of the amusing, the serious and the puzzling.
While set in the US, this film is an Australian venture, filmed in Australia, with a local cast except for the star, Geena Davis.
For those who have experienced car accidents and the loss of loved ones in such accidents, this film might be a bit hard to take. It does not shirk showing accidents and the effect on families because of the loss of children by death or by brain damage.
Geena Davis plays the mother of the family, closely knit, although the children squabble amongst themselves – which leads to a fatal crash. The mother is devastated though self-composed but cannot bring herself to visit her son in an institution. His twin has problems with drinking and communicating. The father walks out and begins another family. It is the youngest, Billy (who was the cause of the distraction that led to the accident) who is the main focus of the film, some years after the accident.
He is something of a home angel, street devil, and gets into pranks (he and his brother's friend shoplifting wearing only ski masks) and stealing a bowling ball that leads to more 'accidents happen' which bring some of the issues and moral consequences into consideration.
This is also a picture of unhappy families, ability and inability to cope with life and being forced to consider taking responsibility for one's actions.
Geena Davis plays the mother as tough and not mealy-mouthed in her comments. Harrison Gilbertson has a strong screen presence as Billy – an indication that he could go on to a successful career.
On the whole, as the title might indicate, this is a film about life and troubles that makes for uncomfortable watching as much of it is close to the bone.
1. A family story? Dysfunctional family? Homes and neighbours? Accidents? Consequences?
2. The title, the many accidents throughout the film, causes, victims, repercussions, those affected? Accidents marring people’s lives?
3. The American setting although an Australian production filmed in Sydney? The Connecticut town? The American style? Streets, homes, neighbours, shops, drive-ins, hospitals, funerals? The musical score?
4. The narration and the point of view?
5. The family, the father, mother and her dominance, the daughter, the twins, Billy? Larry and Gene? Ordinary? Relationships, squabbling, mischief in the household and outside?
6. Billy and Doug, friendship, the fire, death, their being criticised?
7. The drive-in prank, the car, playing up, Billy, Doug and climbing on the screen, urinating, the brothers, Gloria reprimanding her sons? Driving home, the squabbling and Billy’s disruption, the accident, Linda’s death, Gene and his being brain-dead, in-hospital, Billy and Larry not being hurt?
8. The years passing, the family not coping, the father leaving, his girlfriend, Gloria and her harsh attitudes towards life, the father and his visits?
9. The meal and the squabbling, Larry and his being alcoholic, the tussle, the accidental burning of Billy, the arguments, Doug’s role?
10. Billy and Doug, streaking through the shops, their masks? Stealing? Stealing the bowling ball, it rolling down the street, the car, the accident, Doug’s father and his death? Police investigations? Gloria’s reaction?
11. Ray’s visit, the arguments, Larry, Billy and the burn on his back, the gauze, being identified as the streaker? Doug being banned?
12. The insurance issue, Doug’s mother, the suicide note? The stands of the insurance company? The decision to confess the accident for the insurance? The effect on Doug and Billy?
13. The news of Gene’s death, his vegetative state, the years, the visits, Gloria not being able to visit?
14. His funeral, Gloria and her stance, Doug being forgiven, Billy and the rolling of the bowling ball?