Drama, Family Issues
Red Carpet Presentation
From What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to About a Boy to Pieces of April (DFF26), quirky, poignant, character-driven stories about families struggling, in one way or another, to cohere are screenwriter/sometime director Peter Hedges’s calling card. Hedges returns to the director’s chair with his latest script, which sheds some of his signature offbeat humor in exchange for ripped-from-the-headlines urgency. It’s an appropriate trade.
His real-life son, Lucas Hedges (see also Boy Erased in this year’s festival), stars as 19-year-old Ben, who shows up unannounced on his mother Holly’s doorstep just in time for Christmas. Holly—played by “world-class empathy generator” Julia Roberts (to use Variety’s review description)—is at once overjoyed and anguished to see him: Ben is, as it happens, a drug addict in rehab, and there’s no telling what might happen over the course of the next 24 hours.
Instead, there’s only watching and waiting, with Ben’s wary stepfather Neal (Courtney B. Vance) and their other children by her side, for the Ghost of Christmas Past to make his entrance. So he does when the family dog goes missing—a stark reminder that past is always prologue, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is always waiting in the wings.
Director Peter Hedges will be in attendance for the screening
Teenager Jared is the loving, dutiful son of a Baptist preacher (Russell Crowe) and an equally devout wife (Nicole Kidman)—until, that is, he’s outed and forced into a gay-conversion program in Joel Edgerton’s emotional adaptation of Garrard Conley’s namesake memoir.
Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, and J.K. Simmons star in Jason Reitman’s closely observed portrait of one of the headiest scandals of our time, foreshadowing our current predicament in political journalism: the news of the affair that brought Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential bid to an ignominious end.
From the director of Moonlight, this adaptation of a James Baldwin novel deftly and deeply probes the dreams deferred of a young, pregnant Harlem bride-to-be whose modest hopes for the future are dashed by the imprisonment of her fiancé for a crime he didn’t commit.