In one of Anton Yelchin’s final films, we are reminded not just of his brilliance, but how excellent the movies he decided to be a part of.
Characters & Storyline
In the Green family, mental illness seems to have claimed most of Nancy’s (Catherine Keener) children, except one. The seemingly oldest Madeline (Annie Starke) is the boring one in comparison to Max (Anton Yelchin) who is struggling with his sexuality, and has suicidal thoughts; Elisa (Riley Keough) who is dealing with an abusive relationship and is a famous singer; and then there is the baby in the family Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) who is in therapy and seems to want to become a singer like her older sis.
For most of the movie, the focus is on Lily as we watch her jog, desire to lose her virginity to this guy named Davey (Austin Abrams) and deal with her mental illness which isn’t just bi-polarism but seemingly delusion as well. One which changes the possible lives of Max and Elisa in ways neither may be able to fathom.
On The Fence
Too Many Interesting Characters Packed Into One Movie
The best thing about this film are its characters and the worse thing is they are all lumped into one movie and you never feel like you get an adequate amount of time with any of them. Let me explain: Beginning with Nancy, she is a woman of a certain age, who is not only a widow but some of her children question whether or not her friendship with Joanne (Maya Rudolph), their mother’s friend, maybe a queer one. Something which would be of interest since you have to wonder what led a woman of Nancy’s age to go to the other side and see if the pubes are greener when there isn’t a tree.
Then with Elisa, she is this damaged sort of slightly soulful pop star. Someone whose childhood justified being in therapy when she was 11 and now she is dealing with a douche of a boyfriend for reasons never explained. Following her is Max. This guy who sort of came out to Lily when she was not even a teenager but took it back and has struggled with his sexuality ever since. Hell, within the first half hour we see him bleach his hair and attempt suicide since, so it seems, his possible lover killed himself. Lastly, with Lily, she is a teenager dealing with being bi-polar and after Hurry Down Sunshine, I have been craving a storyline which has being bipolar meet the troughs of going through puberty.
Yet, all these stories aren’t given their proper due because everyone is worthy of being a star of their own picture. So, instead, you get only bits and pieces, all of which feel incomplete, and it leaves you a bit frustrated.
Overall: Mixed (Home Viewing)
With nearly every actor having a noteworthy performance to the point you just want to spend one on one time with them, it is frustrating this is an ensemble piece. For, outside of Madeline, there isn’t one character you would be fine if they were cut. But, with there not being an equal distribution of time, and the stories only developed enough for you to care, it makes it frustrating, in the best way possible, how each actor/character proves themselves worthy of your attention.
Hence the Mixed label for while there are so many likable things about this movie, you never get to see any character live out their full potential.