The Playroom (2013)
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Critic Reviews for The Playroom
You have your basic family psychodrama, except there's no real heat either downstairs or up.
Standout Olivia Harris and Parker are heart-wrenching as the vitriolic mother and neglected teen daughter.
Modest in scale, it's the kind of American independent film that brings some honor to that shopworn descriptor.
The film uses the upper-middle-class setting effectively, even as it resorts to heavy-handed symbolism and melodrama in its dour, mostly unforgiving portrait of parental dysfunction.
A detailed, and depressing portrait of grim, forced independence. Lightened only by the sense that if these kids are learning anything, it is how to survive.
Audience Reviews for The Playroom
Some teenagers imagine losing their virginity as a romantic rite of passage. And then there is Maggie(Olivia Harris) who just wants to get it over with her boyfriend Ryan(Cody Linley) in the family garage. Even that does not go as planned, as her mother(Molly Parker) soon arrives home, followed by her father(John Hawkes), a lawyer. And eventually the neighbors(Lydia Mackay & Jonathan Brooks). For the record, we have been here before plenty of times. Specifically, 1975 when parents were behaving badly and children were left to pick up the pieces.(Actually, Molly Parker was also already, in the late lamented television series "Swingtown" which covered a lot of the same ground.) And then there is the fact that the filmmakers seem to be using the film solely to work out some long festering parental issues here.(To be honest, if I had four kids, I would drink heavily, snort cocaine, inject heroin...oh you get the drill. Just be thankful I'm never having kids.) But beneath all of those tired cliches, "The Playroom" gets right how in larger families older kids take care of the younger ones. Plus, the movie is artfully constructed with a neat use of camera and voiceovers to give a dreamy effect to the proceedings. And each in their own way Molly Parker and John Hawkes are both excellent but you knew that already.
One line summary: Teen daughter takes care of three younger siblings while alcoholic parents ignore them. ----------------------------------- Martin and Molly Cantwell have four children, Maggie, Ryan, Sam, and Janie. The parents are alcoholic, and mostly absentee. Maggie serves as surrogate mother. She and the younger children often cleanup after the mess that the parents leave behind (cigarette butts, drinks glasses, random clothing, and so on). It's the era of the Patty Hearst kidnapping, when cigarettes were still popular and considered socially acceptable. Partner swapping seemed to be OK as well. After stealing yet another of her mother's birth control pills, Maggie observes he mother being kissed and fondled by the man of a couple visiting to play bridge. Several drinks later, the parents do not notice that the older boy has fallen off the roof. Maggie does the required first aid. More drinks later, the parents and the guests openly discuss Donna's infidelity with Clark. Nadia and Martin are taken aback and depressed, respectively, and the friendship of the couples takes a hit. Throughout the film, the four children weave stories in the attic as a defense against the ugly realities. They are constructing a rather nice one when Martin asks Maggie to come downstairs. Maggie reveals that Molly is pregnant by Clark, and the adults erupt. Maggie screams to get the to avoid bloodshed. Will anyone find a path out of this real and deep mess? -----Scores------- Cinematography: 10/10 Professionally done. Sound: 10/10 No problems. Acting: 8/10 Olivia Harris was excellent as Maggie. The child actors were fairly good, and I liked John Hawkes' performance. Screenplay: 7/10 There were so many cuts that the film seemed awfully choppy.
Weird. Very weird. Also, I think that was the mom from the TV show where the men were pilots and everyone was swingers. Can the woman only play one role?
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