Blue Car


Blue Car

Critics Consensus

A cautionary tale that rings true.



Total Count: 88


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,516
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Blue Car Photos

Movie Info

A young woman uses art to make sense of her anxieties in life, only to find that doesn't mean she can leave them behind, in this emotional drama. Meg (Agnes Bruckner) is a bright but troubled teenager who has essentially been forced into the position of head of the household; her father has abandoned the family, and her mother (Margaret Colin), struggling to support two children, has emotionally shut herself off from her daughters, leaving Meg to raise her younger sister Lily (Regan Arnold). Meg has a talent for writing and a desire to become a novelist; one of her teachers, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn) senses Meg has talent as a poet, and encourages her to write verse. With her dysfunctional family providing inspiration for her work, Meg finds that poetry gives her a voice to communicate her unhappiness at home, and Auster urges her to continue with her work, helping to enter her work in a competition for young poets. Meg's work is accepted into the finals, but her situation at home grows steadily worse; Meg's mother has become openly combative with her, and Lily is beginning to collapse from the strain. Forbidden by her mother to attend the final readings for the poetry competition, Meg sneaks off and travels to Florida with Auster, only to discover he carries a full load of emotional baggage himself. Blue Car was the debut feature from writer and director Karen Moncrieff; it won an enthusiastic reception in its screenings at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

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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 Dress
Julie Schuster
as Bank Teller
David Carroll
as Department Store Manager
Jeff Gage
as Pawn Shop Owner
Kristan Andrews
as Florida Oasis Cocktail Waitress
Peer J. Oppenheimer
as Diner Customer
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News & Interviews for Blue Car

Critic Reviews for Blue Car

All Critics (88) | Top Critics (36)

  • There's nothing flashy about Moncrieff's filmmaking, and there doesn't need to be: from the start, she gets the emotional details right, and the viewer feels intimately engaged with the young protagonist. It's a powerful, fresh, honest debut.

    Mar 6, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Jun 12, 2003 | Rating: 3/5
  • 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.

    Jun 11, 2003 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

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

    May 30, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The film is strengthened by the two leading performances.

    May 28, 2003
  • We've seen this unhappy scenario played out many times before, but seldom with a better eye for detail.

    May 23, 2003

Audience Reviews for Blue Car

  • Nov 25, 2009
    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.
    William D Super Reviewer
  • Oct 16, 2008
    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 A Super Reviewer
  • Sep 15, 2007
    I thought this was a really good movie, but it was so sad, really sad. Agnes Bruckner (The Woods) owns this film, she's fantastic as Meg. Margaret Colin was pretty good as the mother, she was even a little creepy at times, not an easy role but she pulled it off quite well. David Strathairn was excellent as the teacher Mr. Auster, who encourages Meg and her poetry. Sure you can see where the student/teacher relationship is headed. She is using him as a father figure to start with and obviously that progresses, as her home life basically goes down the shitter. I really felt for Meg, what she went through, her loss, very sad and very moving.
    Marcey I Super Reviewer
  • Oct 20, 2006
    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

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