Blue Car (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes

Blue Car (2003)



Critic Consensus: A cautionary tale that rings true.

Movie Info

The coming-of-age drama Blue Car is the directorial debut feature from actress Karen Moncrieff. Played by newcomer Agnes Bruckner, quiet high school student Meg lives in an apartment complex where she takes care of her troubled little sister, Lily (Regan Arnold), while her emotionally unavailable mom (Margaret Colin) is busy at work or school. Since her dad left, the family has been under financial strain and Lily suffers from starvation, delusions, and self mutilation. Meg maintains a calm demeanor and endures her responsibilities but unleashes her frustrations and pain through her poems, which she shares with her supportive English teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn). With his encouragement, she wins a regional poetry competition and makes it to the finals in Florida. However, she is faced with repeating hardships as her sister's condition intensifies, she gets fired for stealing, and her mom kicks her out of the house. Temporarily staying with her friend Georgia (Sarah Beuhler), she meets the delinquent Pat (A.J. Buckley) and gets involved in some petty crime. Agnes eventually goes to Florida by herself, where she meets Mr. Auster's intelligent yet discontented wife, Delia (Frances Fisher), and she finds her relationship with him becoming more complicated. Blue Car premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.more
Rating: R (for sexual content and language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Karen Moncrieff
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 14, 2003
Miramax Films - Official Site


Aftab Pureval
as Boy in Class
Wendy Lardin
as Georgia's Mom
Jenn O'nofrio
as Blonde Girl
Michael Raysses
as Mr. Kastran
Amy Benedict
as Diner Waitress
Jaime Scheingross
as Girl in the Yellow D...
Julie Schuster
as Bank Teller
David Carroll
as Department Store Man...
Jeff Gage
as Pawn Shop Owner
Kristan Andrews
as Florida Oasis Cockta...
Peer J. Oppenheimer
as Diner Customer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Blue Car

Critic Reviews for Blue Car

All Critics (95) | Top Critics (38)

Worth watching for the coming-out party of Agnes Bruckner, a relative newcomer who shows her mettle with an extraordinary performance in this very ordinary tear-jerker.

June 12, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

An impressive first effort from Ms. Moncrieff, but the eternal Aristotelian in me finds it depressing to watch characters always walking around in moral quicksand.

Full Review… | June 11, 2003
New York Observer
Top Critic

A well-intentioned coming-of-age film anchored by two indelible performances but weakened by an overabundance of drama.

Full Review… | May 30, 2003
Miami Herald
Top Critic

The film is strengthened by the two leading performances.

May 28, 2003
The New Republic
Top Critic

We've seen this unhappy scenario played out many times before, but seldom with a better eye for detail.

May 23, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

Certainly no feel-good flick of the summer. But it's always tough and honest.

Full Review… | May 23, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Blue Car

Karen Moncrieff is the best American filmmaker you've never heard of. It's ridiculous that her work is so little talked about. "Blue Car," her first film, at times borders on greatness. It drifts into pretentiousness and preciousness one too many times, but for a filmmaker to get close to greatness her first time out is nothing short of amazing. (Moncrieff, I should point out, got even closer to greatness with her second film, the bizarrely under-rated "The Dead Girl," which I consider the second-best film of 2006, after Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain.")

"Blue Car" tells a delicate story of an exceptionally bright teenage girl cast adrift by a self-absorbed mother who barely notices when she's in the room. The girl retreats into herself, explores sad memories of being abandoned by her father, and ends up penning poetry that dazzles and frightens her intelligent but lonely English teacher (played beautifully by David Strathairn.)

He volunteers to coach her after school to develop her poetry even further, and so begins a journey that sometimes is too beautiful and too painful for both of them. The film gets sidetracked into a separate drama concerning the girl's younger sister, which weakens the film and makes its sadness a bit over-thick. But the journey of discovery that the girl and man go on is at times the stuff of great literature. Actress Agnes Bruckner gives a breakthrough performance as the girl, and it is beyond belief that she wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Her work is so good that I venture to say that hers is the best teenage acting performance of the decade.

"Blue Car" helps to remind us how life-changing and essential friendships between teenagers and adults can be -- but also how overwhelming and destabilizing they can be. As tough as these relationships are -- for both parties -- they are often the crucible in which new life, and new art, is born.

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

Okay, so are all English teachers this, uh, disturb . . ed . . . ing? Let us hope not. Yikes! David, you are well-done creepy here, buddy. Yes, quite an unsettling performance from David Strathairn as the, uh, overly supportive English teacher. No doubt, however, that this is Bruckner's film. A very genuine emotional portrayal of a young woman struggling to cope with -- and because of -- her dysfunctional family.

Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

Incredible, powerful, and extremely sad, one only hopes that the strength that Meg (Agnes Bruckner) finds at the end is enough to carry her through. My heart broke for her. A child of divorced parents who don't get along, Meg is ignored by her father and taken for granted by her mother. Meanwhile, her sister is losing touch with reality and the mother is oblivious to the warning signs until it is too late. All of this makes Meg easily susceptible to the attentions of her AP English teacher (David Strathairn), whose intentions may have been honorable at first, but who ultimately takes advantage of her vulnerability and betrays her trust. All of this however inspires her to a new honesty in her art and forces her to take stock of her life and hopefully begin again. Ms Bruckner gave her character just enough Lolita to make the May-December thing believable. Her need to be taken seriously and for acceptance blinded her to the dishonesty of others and made her susceptible to numerous betrayals. Don't believe the marketing hype. This is no teen sexploitation film. It is a tender, well done, coming of age film about a young poet finding her voice through layers upon layers of tragedy.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

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