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The Safety of Objects

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
  • COMMENTS
The Safety of Objects
from Film Forum, 03/13/03

The Safety of Objects(IFC) is based on the acclaimed stories of A.M. Holmes. Director Rose Troche weaves several of Holmes's stories about troubled families and suburban dissatisfaction into a tapestry of angst. Each disparate thread is linked in some way to Paul (Joshua Jackson), the 19-year-old victim of a car accident. Glenn Close plays his mother, whose preoccupation with her comatose child leads to the neglect of her daughter and husband. A heartbroken, debt-burdened woman (Patricia Clarkson), a lawyer frustrated with his career (Dermot Mulroney), and a middle-aged mother with a low self-image (Mary Kay Place) are just a few of the unhappy neighbors with connections to Paul's tragedy.

Many critics are singling out cast members for high praise even as they give the project as a whole a thumbs down.

Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) says the film concludes "on a falsely upbeat note." The film's "justification of murder", says Pare, is the only thing preventing it from becoming "a sensitive exploration of mostly age-related problems of the interconnected parents and youngsters."

A reviewer at Movieguide says the movie "is a bold, ambitious and engaging work that suffers from too much story and not enough cohesiveness. The film says that life is difficult and confusing and in the end we need each other, but says nothing about true meaning found in a relationship with God."

Michael Medved (Crosswalk) says the film proceeds "in the haunted spirit of American Beauty—but with no character as sympathetic or intriguing as Kevin Spacey's hero in that insanely over-praised and Oscar-winning film. The excellent and intense performances … make you feel the pain and hopelessness of these materially privileged people, but it's impossible to like any of them."

Mainstream critics are also disappointed. Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) says, "Although the effort is high-minded and fastidious, each household's longings and itches feel arbitrarily grandiose—and sometimes intrusively kooky—when blown up and in the flesh. But the disciplined performances play against schmaltz, and the casting is inspired."


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