I had the honor of sitting in the row adjacent to Famke Janssen at the Omaha Film Festival, looking forward to seeing what she brought to the table as a writer/director. Oh, crap.
Milla Jovovich's performance is not bad at all, in my opinion, but Bill Pullman is a different story. Part of his problem is a script that has him blurting out awkward lines in a so-so Oklahoma accent (in particular, the line "Try this on for size" sounded almost sexual, and not in any good way.) Spencer List plays a mostly annoying little dink, but when he's not getting in trouble, he's acting like a weirdo (no kid I know ever actually shouts "Yippee!", even if most of his upbringing has revolved around old-timey cinema.) Rory Cochrane is OK, but occasionally suffers from the awkward dialogue himself, but gets some leeway from me because his character is rarely supposed to be sober anyway. Pullman was given no such luxury.
The story was OK, immigrant con-artist single mother wants to live out the American Dream, then finds out that's hard to do when you have stereotypical bible-thumping neighbors, I guess. Bill Pullman hits the kid with his car but unfortunately does not back up and do it again, instead he decides that this wholly unappealing child is exactly what he and his wife need to fill the void in their life left by their own deceased child. A lot of this feels fairly predictable as you sit and watch, but there is a momentary twist towards the end that works fairly well. Maybe a little bit too happy of an ending, but ambiguous enough to make you not 100% sure. God, I hope they weren't thinking sequel.
Janssen was also nice enough to share a story about getting Cat Stevens' personal OK to use his music in a particular scene; all in all, she was an extremely cool guest and I can appreciate her feeling very close to this story, Famke being a native of the Netherlands (go ahead, say it: "I'd like to visit her netherlands, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN" :| oh my) who came to America to build a career and such, but I doubt her actual experience was this chock-full of 1-dimensional characters who can't converse like normal human beings. Then again, Hollywood. . .anyway, my point is, for a writing/directorial debut, it's average, particularly the writing. I've forgotten most of the technical aspects of this movie, but as it's a family drama with occasional attempts at comedy, they're not going to wow you with special effects. I give it 50%, in part because I did get the chance to hear the director give everyone in attendance an extra bit of insight as to her motivations for this project. It's not great, but I hope she tries directing again.