Sunday, 16 June 2013

Tumbleweeds (1999) - ★★★½

Director: Gavin O'Conner
Writers: Angela Shelton, Gavin O'Connor (Screenplay)
Stars: Janet McTeer, Kimberly J. Brown, Jay O. Sanders, Gavin O. Conner, Laurel Hollomon, Lois Smith

Not quite a road-trip, not quite a coming-of-age story, Tumbleweeds is a pretty awesome drama about the crazy lives of a mother and daughter. Even though I think it's really good, I can't deny that it's entirely forgettable. I sat down at my computer and had to think about what movie I was watching last night. It took me a while to remember the name Tumbleweeds. Yet I can't stop smiling when I think about it. With the film fresh in my mind, I can tell you that this is a solid movie that's worth a watch.

Plus, Janet McTeer's performance was amazing, so that makes it a must-see in my opinion.

Ava Walker (Kimberly J. Brown) has spent her life travelling from place to place with her mother, Mary Jo (Janet McTeer). This is largely due to the fact that her mother keeps getting into bad and abusive relationships with men, then flees so that she never has to see them again. When they move to California, Ava adores her school and the friends she's made, whereas Mary Jo has gotten into a relationship with a domineering truck-driver. Together, they adjust to their new settings in a story that displays their amazing bond and will to be happy.
McTeer flexing her flirtatious ways.

What makes this film better than most is the astounding chemistry between the mother and daughter. In all honesty, I think this is the most believable mother-daughter combination in the history of cinema. Mary Jo would do anything for her daughter, and Ava has gone above and beyond to make her mother happy. Even though they get in some pretty messed up situations, they always seem to find the silver-lining to happiness.

Janet McTeer gave a masterful performance. McTeer is English, yet she seamlessly plays an American from the South that clearly has had minimal education and a bad upbringing. You could tell all of these things just by the first few scenes alone. I didn't know what McTeer's nationality was, for I'd seen her do a perfect Irish accent in Albert Nobbs (2011). The fact that she has a rich English accent (but can fool me into thinking she's from the south) makes this a world-class performance. Also, the love she shows for her daughter is so fierce in her eyes and expressions. You can also detect vulnerability there and see that the strength is just a front to protect her daughter. All I know is that McTeer earned every bit of her Oscar nomination in 1999.

Kimberly J. Brown impressed me beyond words. It didn't feel like she was acting, everything she said and expressed just looked so natural. You could clearly see pain there, but also a strength to spare her mother's feelings. There was always a sense of frustration in this girl, but then she'd always be back to expressing the sheer love for her mother. It's one of the best child performances I've ever seen. The supporting performances from Gavin O'Conner and Jay O. Sanders were both solid and believable. O'Conner not only directed the film, but played the no-nonsense truck-driver that Mary Jo dated in California.

In the end, there's hope for the two. They're happy, but not everything is secure. I was left wondering if they'll be ok, but inside I was 99% sure that they'd do just fine. They're two very strong, independent, wonderful women that would do anything for each other. Their relationship and chemistry was what drove this movie into the depths of my heart. It's pretty run-of-the-mill stuff in all honesty, but it was executed very well. So give Tumbleweeds a watch, I really do believe it's worth it.

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