Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Light Beneath Their Feet [2015]

MPAA (PG)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars) 

IMDb listing

A Light Beneath Their Feet [2015] (directed by Valerie Weiss, written by Moira McMahon) is an excellent Hollywood quality, locally set, indie "coming of age" drama about a high school senior, Beth (played magnificently by Madison Davenport), growing-up in Evanston, IL, trying to navigate her way between her college dreams (of going away to UCLA in California) and taking care of her mother Gloria (played again magnificently / convincingly by Taryn Manning) suffering from bipolar disorder.  Dad (again played quite well / convincingly by Brian King), divorced from Gloria, was remarried and expecting a new child with his new wife Julie (played by Kali Hawk). The film played recently at the 2015 (51st Annual) Chicago International Film Festival.

To be honest, I don't particularly like the "central conflict" (impossibly far UCLA vs mom) in the film or the film's portrayal of the families in the story (all "nuclear" at best).   If there were no grandparents, no uncles or aunts to say nothing of siblings "in the picture," then Beth's departure at the end of the film for UCLA (left thankfully somewhat ambiguous, though it's more-or-less clear where the film-makers seemed to want her to go) would _definitely_ consign mom "to a home" (if at her age, late 40s, one would even exist).  It's hard to imagine an alternative.

THAT SAID, this is a film DEFINITELY WORTH WATCHING.  And since the director, Valerie Weiss, was present for Q/A after the screening, I asked, honestly, if they, the film makers, considered at all making a sequel as the setup of the dilemma was excellent, it's successful playing-out would be the challenge.  To this Ms Weiss answered that they have been looking into pitching the idea of following up the film WITH A TELEVISION SERIES.

I think that would be _great_, because in my line of work as a Catholic priest, I KNOW that there'd be MILLIONS of people / families that could benefit from watching a family struggle with this dilemma of caring for a family member who is truly _borderline_ ... someone who is _almost_ able to take care of him/herself (but _definitely_ not quite), or is able to take care of him/herself _in some things_ but NOT in others.  I would also suggest looking at some of the "telenovelas" of the Spanish channels, because this kind of television series would seem to me to be "more familiar territory" to them.  

In any case, I think that the topic of this film is excellent, and I hope that much more is done with it in the future as MANY, MANY PEOPLE / FAMILIES could benefit.

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