Starring: Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman, Christopher Walken, Kathryn Hahn
Director: Jason Bateman
It’s kind of cool to see Jason Bateman behind the camera (although in this case he’s in front of it as well) in this adaptation of a Pullitzer Prize winning novel.
I heard nothing about this film in release, and came across it when Walken mentioned in an interview that he really enjoyed working on it, but that no one saw it.
The film tells the story of two adult children (Kidman and Bateman) of artists who create performance art which challenges people’s expectations (Walken). As children, they were highly involved in the pieces, and as adults, they have struggled to leave that past behind them and to grow up. Following an accident that brings the family back together, some hard words are said, and the parents set off on a trip, but are soon pronounced missing under mysterious circumstances. Whilst the police suspect murder, the siblings suspect the ultimate performance piece, and decide to get to the bottom of it.
Although the plot rests on putting the pieces together, the film is really about family, and how the children struggle with adulthood because of their dysfunctional family life. I loved the way that Kidman really did feel like an older sibling to Bateman, the natural leader of the two, but deep down, she wanted her parents to change and give her the normality that she needed. Bateman is more realistic about the parents ability to love and care for them, the amount of ego involved. The characters all feel really well drawn, and their desires and motivations felt real. The parents art capers were hilarious, and the bluntness of the parents, especially Walken, was really awkward and funny.
Overall, I really liked this film. I liked how the family relationships felt psychologically real, and the struggle to come to terms with the lack of parenting and the difference of values was the real spine of the film, with funny dialogue, situations and a Scooby doo like mystery as a counter point. Really good!
See It If: you have a difficult relationship with your parents, this might put it in perspective.