Opening 7 Aug 2008
Writing credits: Robert Frost, Dennis Lee
Principal actors: Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrrie-Anne Moss
From the title of this film one would expect to be enlightened while the fireflies glow. Not only were we left in the dark to piece together the relationships between these people but in the press conference, but I learned that it was the direct intention of director Dennis Lee to make it that way. The film is semi autobiographical, but the characters’ personalities are fictional. Lee said, “The audience is given access to the Taylor family at one of the most difficult times in their lives for one week...no editing of all the information, and the audience has to conclude what happens.”
The story begins with the successful writer Michael (Ryan Reynolds) who, while on his way home to a family reunion, finds that his mother Lisa (Julia Roberts) has died in a terrible car crash with his father Charles (William Defoe) at the wheel. Michael is forced to look at his past history and relationships with his harshly abusive father. He also reconnects to his mother’s sister who lived with them when he was young. The story is full of secrets, disintegrating relationships and half-told stories.
Lee said that it was difficult to get back into film making since his own mother died in a car crash. A scene where Michael tries to give the script to his father to read and then in the end throws it into the fire may be what Dennis Lee might have wanted to do with his own father. He did mention that his father had read the script but had not seen the movie. The film is disappointing since it took the press conference to figure out why the director or the script withheld so much information. The film was not inspiring enough to make the audience want to fill in the blanks but seems to be a much-needed epitaph for the director’s memory of his mother and perhaps a bridge to heal his personal family wounds. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)