Adele (Kate Winslet) is one of those
emotionally wounded single moms who’s clinging to her only child, a
pre-pubescent boy named Henry (Gattlin Griffith), who’s trying hard to
“take care of” his Mom, who seems to have difficulty even doing the
simplest things, like getting in her car and driving to the store.
The house is getting run down. Adele
doesn’t seem to have any friends or family nearby.
Her ex Gerald (Clark Gregg) has re-married, and not only taken on her
new wife’s two children, they’ve had another of their own.
Gerald picks up Henry every Sunday night for dinner, where,
predictably, Gerald is trying to orchestrate a “one big happy family”
thing, with limited success. Henry
doesn’t really feel a part of that household at all. He sees his
“family” as just his Mom. But
neither is really cognizant of just how isolated they’ve become.
That’s why, when the drifter suddenly
appears, bleeding from the belly, and asks for a little assistance, neither
Adele nor Henry are well-equipped to resist. Before
they know it, Frank (Josh Brolin) is in their house, and immediately informs
them that he is an escaped convict. At
first he does the predictable thing: he
ties them up and assures them he’s not going to hurt them as long as they
cooperate. Naturally, we, as viewers,
are beginning to fear that this isn’t going to end well.
But then the Stockholm Syndrome begins
operating here: the hostages begin to
feel empathy, especially as Frank fixes them chili and spoon-feeds her.
Yes, there’s something vaguely sensual starting to happen, also, and
Adele isn’t doing anything to discourage that.
(It’s been far too long since any man has touched her tenderly, even
if he is a tough-looking stranger. Maybe
that’s part of the appeal.) Henry is
looking at this innocently, but also realizing that his Mom has been terribly
lonely and depressed, and this, at least, is more interactive then he’s seen
her in a long while.
Before we know it, not only are the
ropes removed, Frank is starting to fix things around the house:
the squeaky door, the split stair, the burned-out bulb.
He’s teaching Henry to throw a curveball.
And he teaches them how to make an honest-to-goodness homemade peach
pie, and suddenly they are doing things “as a family” in a way that makes
them all just want to run off somewhere and start all over again.
Ah, but it isn’t that easy, of course.
The local law enforcement continues to put out APBs on the television
news for this “dangerous” escaped convict, who was imprisoned for murder.
(Frank’s retort was something about how that wasn’t the whole
To prevent the scenario from becoming too stifling, some other
characters are introduced: a neighbor
who comes with her wheel-chair bound handicapped son, who insists that Adele
help her out while she has to go somewhere. And
when Henry rides his bike to the grocery store for supplies, he runs into the
new girl at school, and they wind up taking a little walk around the lake, as
if to signal that Henry’s just on the brink of auspicious changes himself.
This absence also provides the opportunity for Adele and Frank to, you
know, find occasion to express their newfound affection, but we viewers are
remarkably spared from the intimate details.
Saying any more would spoil the ending,
if others haven’t done that for you already.
But suffice is to say that it’s not exactly “happily ever after.”
But at least they all had that one strange, magnificent weekend of
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister,
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving, Texas