LITTLE ACCIDENTS (2014)
Starring Boyd Holbrook, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Lucas, Jacob Lofland, Travis Tope, Chloë Sevigny, Alexia Rasmussen, James DeForest Parker, Beau Wright, Randy Springer, Tim Gooch, Katie DeLuca, Mike Bizzarri, Peter Herrick and Louie Lawless.
Screenplay by Sara Colangelo.
Directed by Sara Colangelo.
Distributed by Amplify. 105 minutes. Not Rated.
Is it that bad a thing when the worst you can say about a film is that it has more ideas than it can really express?
Little Accidents is certainly about how accidents can suddenly and concretely change people’s lives, though these misfortunes in general are not so small here. In fact, they loom pretty hugely in the lives of the characters.
The movie takes place in the coal country of West Virginia. In a small town which revolves around the industry, the mine collapsed killing ten men, with only the quiet Amos Jenkins (Boyd Holbrook) surviving, but left partially crippled. The town mostly blames Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas), a former mine worker himself who has worked his way up to a comfortable life management level. The town believes that he had ignored safety precautions, but was he cutting corners or simply doing his job?
The second major accident also revolves directly around Bill. His teenaged son JT (Travis Tope) has suddenly disappeared without a trace. The audience knows, as does one character, that the son died when tripping and smacking his head into a rock when running through the woods after a younger boy named Owen (Jacob Lofland) to bully him. Actually, one other character also knows about what happened to JT, but he is mentally challenged so he probably does not understand the significance of what he has seen.
The increasingly frantic search for JT and the town’s determination that Bill’s inaction killed their friends, fathers and husbands puts more stress on Bill’s already tenuous relationship with his wife Diane (Elizabeth Banks). Diane’s unhappiness leads her to search for solace in religion, support groups, a brief affair with Amos and a friendship with young Owen, whose father was one of the dead miners.
This is some emotionally charged territory for a film to tread in.
Intriguingly, Little Accidents does not spend all its time trying to investigate the cave in. Eventually we get a basic idea of what happened – at least as close as anyone probably ever will. However, Little Accidents is more interested in how these calamities effect the tight-knit working class community.
In fact, the solutions to the problems is obviously secondary here. For example, when Owen finally tells Diane what happened to her son, even though they had been friends for a while, it is done as a long-shot with no audio.
This is more of a character piece on a region. It has a gritty realism, but I’m not going to lie, the characters in general were not all that interesting.
Little Accidents offers the nice opportunity for a rare serious dramatic role for co-star Elizabeth Banks, who most often seems to end up in lighter comic roles. Banks does a terrific job in the role, even if much of what her character does makes little sense story-wise. However, blame for that flaw should lie on the filmmakers, not the actress. She takes what she was given and plays it terrifically.
Holbrook also does a fine job as the survivor, just trying to get on with his life despite having become a local martyr to the cause of mine safety.
Still, Little Accidents has no real answers or even any sense of hope. Life is difficult and not always fair. It’s a pretty accurate depiction of the world, but that doesn’t make it a fun one to sit through.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 16, 2015.