GEENA DAVIS HARRISON GILBERTSON HARRY COOK SABASTION GREGORY
Like those coming of age films before it, this Australian production uses the familiar formula of tragedy to feed character growth, drastic life changes to turn corners and of course the strong bond of friendship. When I first saw this trailer it looked like a great role to get Oscar winner Geena Davis back on the right track, while it is some of her best (actually her only) work in a long while the focus like most coming of age stories falls on the young male lead. At times difficult to watch because of death, tragedy and subject matter, the script uses every attempt to insert obnoxious and over the top dialogue which comes in the form of metaphoric profanity.
The first major accident Billy Conway (Gilbertson) witnesses is his neighbor catching himself on fire and running toward Billy playing in the sprinkler to put it out. The next is far more tragic and the first of two car accidents in his young life, leaving his family of 6 broken and dismembered. Billy’s mother (Davis) wallows in the loss of a child and being abandoned by her husband, one child in a nursing home, the other a drunk. Billy’s life becomes a series of bad events strung together to create a childhood he doesn’t have control over. The only thing that brings him joy is his older brother’s best friend Doug (Gregory) who says having Billy around is like having his best friend back.
Tragedies are not something we sit down in front of the screen to enjoy, and the many that occur in the duration of this film could be compared to an action movie that has just as many consecutive explosions. However telling an endearing story through tragic events certainly provides these bold characters with endless amounts of emotion and scenes in which the audience will likely cave with empathy. Compared to similar films like The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and even the lesser Running With Scissors, Accidents Happen falls in between. Davis delivers a memorable performance but too much of the script travels in directions that don’t often end up where they should.
This film doesn’t have the Oscar caliber I thought it could from the trailer because in some ways it doesn’t take itself serious enough. There are certainly moments, two in particular, where the film did impress me when it stopped and dealt with very difficult subject matter, but a second opinion on the script could have made it even stronger. Unfortunately distributing so much time to the young characters alienates the adults from really getting into the film and vice-versa leaving it with no one being truly captivated.
Final Thought – Sprinkled with well written and emotional scenes.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih