The PlayroomFeature Film |
An elegant and full-bodied family drama.
Director Julia Dyer brings to life the words of her late sister, screenwriter Gretchen Dyer, in the tender yet unsentimental coming-of-age drama The Playroom. In 1970s suburbia, 16-year-old Maggie (newcomer Olivia Harris) is forced to grow up fast, shielding her younger siblings from the mounting tensions in her parents' crumbling marriage. On the fateful night where her father (John Hawkes) and mother (Molly Parker) hit their breaking point, Maggie ushers her brothers and sister upstairs into the playroom, a sanctuary where they spin wonderful stories and escape the drama unfolding below. With patient pacing, Dyer gently leads us into Maggie's world, defining it through sharp visual details and loaded dialogue ripe with subtext overlooked by the younger kids. Dyer takes a major risk with a script that relies so heavily on the performances of children, but thankfully her cast is impeccable in their simple but honest portrayals. Harris--despite her inexperience--shoulders this intimate narrative with a remarkable self-assurance, proving a solid scene partner to the more seasoned Parker and Hawkes, who both surrender gorgeously heartbreaking turns. With a family dynamic so truthful and complex, the pathos is profound. Nuanced yet bold, The Playroom is utterly engrossing.
|The Playroom clip - Uncharted Territory|