WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Critically acclaimed actor/writer/director Frank Whaley (“Field of Dreams“, “The Doors“, “Pulp Fiction“) brings forth this tale of two decidedly different people from two walks of New York life and the circumstance that brings them together. Twelve year old Reggie (newcomer Julian Shatkin) heralds from a highly affluent, Upper West Side family. He is extremely intelligent, analytically and precisely taking in everything all those around him do and say, making his thoughts on matters known (whether solicited or not), but is ultimately reclusive and introverted amidst the chaotic, high-strung life of his always on the go, not overly attentive mother, Barbara (Debra Messing). Eleanor (Leighton Meester) is living paycheck to paycheck, waiting tables, and fed up with a truly never there musician boyfriend Dennis (Billie Jo Armstrong), whose consistent absence causes her to finally cut things off, though in doing so, a subsequent encounter with him causes a dismissal from her job. Feeling completely lost and unsure of the future, a placement agency offers her an opportunity as the new nanny for Reggie while his mom is gone overseas for a spell. From this point, the pair begin an initially awkward and somewhat mundane relationship that unexpectedly takes a much deeper, life-altering turn as the two bond. Opening up to each other about their lives, experiences and a mutual love of music, hence getting perspectives which are fresh and new, it plumbs the depths of who they both are and the choices, both present and future, that have been, and will be, made.
Once again, the beauty of independent cinema shines forth in this eloquently written narrative paired with the poignant performances of its two main stars. Presenting what this reviewer saw as a completely fresh direction and take on the entire concept of “boy meets girl”, the extent and intensity of the friendship and meaning within it that Eleanor and Reggie have is hard not to be affected by on every emotional level. The characters were both inwardly hurt in various ways, and to see that all come out when neither expected it is a heartwarming and heart wrenching journey for them to bear. Yet, it is all explored in a fantastically simple way via the humor, sadness, and self-awareness each encounters as the story unfolds. Meester is her beautiful, girl-next-door self as Eleanor, whose inner battles and initial un-assuredness about her future is brought out in a very raw, but endearing way as she finds life’s direction taking on new meaning in minding Reggie. The real revelation here, though, is Shatkin, who provides one of the most amazingly entertaining but deep performances by a young actor this reviewer has seen in playing the quick witted Reggie, who seems to hide behind his evolved intelligence until the connection with Eleanor brings him out of his shell and cause him to look at life in a different light. Messing’s Barbara, for her brief screen time, is solid, as is Armstong’s obsessive ex-boyfriend. A beautiful orchestral score, and particular recurring theme, strums the heartstrings and gives us the totality to what indie films so often are: real and human.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!