Among the many films pulled from the schedule, postponed, or just simply moved around, this was one of the few films I definitely wanted to watch. Though with watching it now, I do think, out of most of the films I watched, this one left me the most uncomfortable. Which is strange since it doesn’t have any sexual situations or violence.
Characters Worth Noting
David “Gary” Lamb (Ross Patridge) | Tommie “Emily” (Oona Laurence) | Linny (Jess Weixler)
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
Usually, when a story can be considered a thriller, it is because stakes are high, there is someone chasing someone, or there is some serious threat which seems like something you or I wouldn’t have to go through. However, in this film things are different. A little girl named Tommie finds herself coming into the life of a man named David. Now, David seems normal at first. Granted, he is having an affair with a co-worker named Linny, and his father is dying, but for the most part he seems like an everyday guy. Then Tommie becomes a part of his life and you are left questioning his intentions.
Now, let me state that Tommie is 11 and David 47. In most coming of age films, usually, the girl is just out of high school, in her early college years, or at the very least 18. With this 30+ year difference, though, it is difficult to not question why this man is hanging around this girl? There are no signs David lost a daughter or niece, and while his dad dies and he claims to have lost a brother, again there is no reason which supports him basically kidnapping this girl.
Which perhaps leads you to wonder why I say “basically?” Well, this isn’t the usual case of me just writing informally. You see, Tommie is the type of girl or child, you’d expect to be kidnapped. The type who was too trusting, didn’t have friends or family who really cared, and then this person shows her what has been absent in her life. But here comes the difficult part of watching this movie, you are never sure if David simply is trying to be like a father or uncle, or is a predator testing to see if this girl could be his prey.
Take for instance his constant warnings about “keeping each other safe” through lying, him talking about her changing a room he rents so it is like he is being invited into her room, and him taking her to his father’s secluded ranch. Throughout all this, and many more scenarios, it is hard to not look at wide-eyed Tommie and wonder, “Will this be it?” Yet, every time the moment passes where you expect David to strike, there is no relief. Leaving you on constant edge as long as this child is in this man’s presence, prepped to lie for any scenario, and slowly falling for him in a way you can’t tell if it is romantic love or paternal love. For with her constantly upset about him treating her like a kid, and her being jealous of Linny, it is hard to say whether she just wants his attention or an adult kind of love.
Things To Note
David never touches Tommie sexually
Questions Left Unanswered
Why exactly did David pickup, invest, and basically kidnap Tommie for a week? Was it to teach her friends and the adults in her life a lesson? Perhaps see what it was like to kidnap someone after his brother was kidnapped? Could it be something else entirely?
High Tension: I can’t recall seeing a film, neither in theaters or in the comfort of my home, which had me on edge like this. I can’t say if it was because David didn’t seem like the type or because Tommie was just so precious you didn’t want to see nothing happen to her. But this combination, and those weird moments those two had, put me in such a state of suspense that more violent films haven’t done in ages.
Oona Laurence Is A Lead, Not Supporting Role: That last time we saw Ms. Laurence was in Southpaw and to say she was anything less than the reason you gave a damn about Jake Gyllenhaal’s character would be an understatement. Same goes with this film. She is the reason you care and have any reaction out of this film. With eyes open wide, terrible parents, passive friends, and yet this one man caring for her, there are mixed feelings. On one hand, you want David to be the man who saves her from this life she lives, yet at the same time, you fear he will prey on her knowing she is unprotected and ripe for exploitation. Which one could argue any child in Tommie’s position could do. However, what makes Ms. Laurence different is that she makes that duality. She can lead you to believe David is misunderstood just as much as she can lead you to believe he would hurt her. Something I’d argue just not any child actor could achieve.
On The Fence
Lack of Reasoning: Originally lack of reasoning was considered a low point, but I am left wondering if David really explaining himself could have helped or hurt things. Him explaining his reasons behind attaching to this child would have made us lose this uneasy feeling of what he made have done to Tommie. Yet, at the same time, there is this question of whether Tommie was the first, the last, as well as whether she didn’t become a victim simply because of some reason not stated.
Not Knowing How Her Family and “Friends” Respond: Another explanation missing is how Tommie’s family reacts to her return and how her so-called friends reacted when it seemed David kidnapped her, the first time. On top of that, she is surely seen outside her school playing with a man and the fact this isn’t commented on or anything is questionable. Almost to the point where it is hard to not be frightened about what could happen to your own child or one you know, just based off a handful of your, or another’s, decisions.