I am quite quickly becoming a steadfast supporter of the John Hawkes fan club. Once again, the charismatic actor puts in a stellar performance as a frustrated father moving his three kids out of their middle America homeland to The Golden State. A unique road movie, the story is presented through Hawkes’ awkward and contrary middle child Greta. Aside from listening to her one CD (The Smiths, obviously) the thirteen year old spends the whole journey travelling cross-country wondering what has happened to her elusive and absent mother, and starts playing detective to seek out the truth.
This is a really great movie. Perfectly indie, without venturing into hackneyed stereotyping. Ryan Simpkins is astonishingly good in the central role, rekindling that moment we all have when one realises families are capable of imploding with complexities. Olivia Silver is a patient and unfussy filmmaker too, letting the performances carry of the story.
Of all the films I caught at Berlinale, I hope that this gets an extensive realise. A refreshingly blunt take on adolescence and the difficult teenage transitional period we’ve all endured.
THE GOOD: Ryan Simpkins. Who would have thought a thirteen year old would be so good at playing a thirteen year old?
THE BAD: Some criticism has been met with the lack of development of the other siblings, but really that’s a pernickety claim.