This is Annette Bening's show.
She plays Dorothea Fields, a 55-year-old single Mom who managed
to have a son at 40, right before Dad left.
Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is a good kid.
But Dorothea has started to worry that he doesn't have any
influence in his life other than her.
So she invites her two renters and a neighbor kid to help out?
One renter, William (Billy Crudup), is a construction guy who's
constantly working on their “money pit” house---in exchange for rent
considerations. It might
have been potentially a good bonding opportunity with Jamie, but alas,
he just isn't interested in the building trade.
At all. And William
just doesn't have much else to say, anyway, besides talking about
different types of wood.
Abbie (Greta Gerwig), the other renter, is a wannabe photographer
and self-proclaimed feminist, who thinks she ought to educate Jamie in
some of the frank female talk of the movement, so Jamie learns a lot
more about adult sexuality than perhaps he can process at age 15.
Not to mention when she takes him along to her ob/gyn
appointment. And just for
good measure, she takes him drinking and dancing?
Well, at least she doesn't try to seduce him, like she does
William, who happily complies, but then finds out that her ideas about
role-playing sort of dominates the whole experience.
Dorothea, for her part, is content to smoke cigarrettes
and....smoke cigarrettes. She
doesn't think of herself as scatter-brained, but she does lose the car
because it catches on fire in the department store parking lot.
She responds by inviting the fire chief to her Christmas dinner.
When Jamie asks her if she's happy, she replies, “You don't ask
that question. It's the
quickest road to depression.” She
and Jamie follow the stock market every day, carefully noting prices of
certain 1979 blue chips, like Xerox and IBM.
But it's not at all clear if Dorothea has two nickels to rub
together; the cars she drives certainly don't scream “ostentation.”
And neither does Jamie's best friend, the girl down the street,
Julie (Elle Fanning). She,
too, loves to confide in Jamie, telling him all about her sexual
activity, which he doesn't really want to hear about, because he's got a
crush on her, but she ignores that, and assures him they're just
friends. Even though she
frequently climbs in his bedroom window and cuddles with him all night.
She asks Jamie to help her with the pregnancy test, which is also
a bit of an emotional overload for him.
Finally, after a couple of mini-crises, Jamie summons the courage
to tell his Mom what he really thinks: he doesn't need these other
people to help “raise” him; he's just fine with Mom's company.
And he wishes she would be, also.
We can't help but like Dorothea, but we're not sure why.
She's not exactly a model Mom, and her attempts to “get out
there and socialize” meet with predictable disaster.
But she is true to her own quirky version of herself, and somehow
that's enough, both for her and for us.