Movie Review by Neil Ryan
Starring: Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Jessica Campbell, Patricia Clarkson, Joshua Jackson
Director: Rose Troche
THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS is an ambitious project from American writer/director Rose Troche, who adapted the screenplay from an anthology of short stories by the writer A M Homes. Whereas Homes’ original stories deal with different individuals in different settings, Troche galvanised the stories into an ensemble piece focusing on four neighbouring suburban families. Separate characters created by Homes are morphed into single individuals, and problem children from one story are recast as the offspring of equally troubled parents from another. The result is a film that is similar in tone and scope to Robert Altman’s SHORT CUTS.
The story which acts as a central thread concerns Esther Gold (Glenn Close), a mother who dutifully attends to her son Paul (DAWSON’S CREEK’s Joshua Jackson) who has been comatose since a road accident a year previously. The lives of three of Esther’s neighbouring families become ever more intertwined with hers over the course of a few days as their foibles and dark secrets are exposed, and the events that led to Paul’s fateful accident are gradually revealed by flashbacks.
Troche’s film is a skilfully woven patchwork which draws the audience into a world of secret yearnings and emotional crises. It could be argued that the psychological make-up of some of the characters (having resulted from the fusion of disparate individuals from the original written source) requires the viewer to bridge unfeasible gaps in personality changes. The best example of this is Jim Train’s (Dermot Mulroney) successful lawyer suddenly leaving work and becoming a compulsive buyer, shoplifter, and motivational coach for Esther when she enters an endurance competition at the local mall, his grasp of the rational all too quickly released. But such shortcomings are acceptable because for the majority of its two-hour duration THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS is by turns amusing and heartfelt, managing to convey a sense of suburbia on the edge of despair without the black cynicism of Todd Solondz or Neil LaBute.
Accomplished and satisfying.