Guest Post by Joe Ball
Bio: Proud Hoosier. Consumer of movies, music, smart jokes, tacos & bourbon. Attempting to grow up without selling out.
Any time I need to sort out my thoughts, I go for a drive; often in silence and with the windows down. It’s not that I’m trying to escape from my problems, but rather the drive provides an opportunity to gain some distance and perspective so that I can work through things in my mind. When I return home, my mind is clear and I feel refreshed.
The family featured in “Arcadia” is certainly gaining distance and perspective as they move from New England to their new home in California. The film tells the coming-of-age story of Greta (Ryan Simpkins) and her siblings as they head west in a beat-up station wagon with their father, Tom (played by a personal favorite of mine, John Hawkes). Through jokes, stories and songs, Tom attempts to keep everyone upbeat through the move; he’ll even lie if it helps get them to California quicker. He believes their new home will be better for everyone and promises a backyard swimming pool and 300 days of sunshine. There’s even an opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon along their journey.
But as they get farther from their old home and the memory of their mother, tensions build. Soon everyone finds themselves in dangerous and uncomfortable situations, both inside and out of the station wagon. Tom is often away on secretive phone calls. He’ll yell at the kids if they disobey his orders. He even snaps at family friends they visit in Oklahoma. He tries to remain positive and do what’s best for the family, but everything drives his children further away from him. Greta longs to see her mother and won’t stop asking about her. Why haven’t they heard from her in so long?
After winning acclaim for her senior thesis project, “Little Canyon”, at Sundance in 2009, Olivia Silver decided to revamp her debut into a full-length feature. As the result, “Arcadia” offers a raw glimpse into a dysfunctional family falling apart before your eyes. Think of the family in “Little Miss Sunshine” without the comedic relief of Alan Arkin or the burlesque-strip routine during a beauty pageant, and that’s “Arcadia”. John Hawkes offers up another great performance to an already underrated career. The child actors (Ryan Simpkins, Kendall Toole and Ty Simpkins) also show tremendous range and promise.
The film is easily relatable to those who have taken long road trips with family. Somewhere in the middle of the trip, you hardly recognize your surroundings, those around you have become mortal enemies and the memory of home seems so far away. When you do finally return home, you feel stronger and perhaps closer with your family, for having survived.
Olivia Silver 2012
Categories: American Spectrum Features, Featured
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The 9th annual Indianapolis International Film Festival features more than 100 films in 10 days. July 19-29 at IMA and Earth House. See the entire 2012 line up!