This is a strange movie. Due to its crazy subject matter, it’s just a hair away from being a terrible film during its entire running time. Yet, thanks to some great performances and solid direction by Liza Johnson, the people behind this one pull off an impressive high-wire act. In one of her best performances to date, Kristen Wiig plays Johanna Parry, a lonely caregiver who winds up working for Mr. McCauley (Nick Nolte), an older gentleman taking care of his granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld) after her mother has died. Sabitha doesn’t like having Johanna around, so she and a friend (Sami Gayle) tease her in a very peculiar way. They pretend to be Sabitha’s addict father, Ken (Guy Pearce) and write love letters to a completely convinced Johanna. In fact, Johanna is so convinced that Ken loves her that she moves into his abandoned hotel without him even knowing. How this incredibly awkward situation is handled is what makes this a heartwarming movie instead of an ugly, unbearably uncomfortable one. Much credit goes to Johnson and screenwriter Mark Poirier (the Tucson native who also wrote Goats and Smart People) for finding much sweetness in what could’ve been a very sour affair. Wiig, who has taken some great risks since leaving Saturday Night Live, is showing that she’s willing to take gambles rather than follow the typical post-SNL route (Available for rent on iTunes, Amazon.com and VOD during a limited theatrical run).
Director: Liza Johnson
Producer: Michael Benaroya, Jamin O'Brien, Cassian Elwes, Dylan Sellers, Robert Barnum, Kristen Wiig, Sloane Klevin, Michael Raimondi, Buddy Patrick, Ali Jazayeri, Scott Frakes, Joe Jenckes, Liza Johnson, Mark Poirier, Abigail Disney, Jacob Pechenik, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld, Nick Nolte, Christine Lahti, Jennifer Leigh, Sami Gayle and Joel Berger