Finding one's self by finding home
The movie plays out through three time periods and in three areas of North Carolina, all closely related. In each one, a character struggling with the concept of home provides part of the overall tale. Bonnie Hunt plays a woman unsatisfied with her current status, which is made up of living with her mother (Michael Lerned) and working at a car-rental shop. As a result, she wants to track down the child she gave up for adoption when she was 17. The hunt and the complications involved create troubles for her and her mother, and bring forth emotions that might be better left buried under the years that have passed.
In the second story, Mark (Kip Pardue) is a young man trying to save some endangered turtles. With nothing to his name, he sleeps on the beach, until George (Michael Kelly), the proprietor of a local hotel, takes a shine to him. Mark is a sick man, a fact he doesn't hide from George, but it doesn't prevent him from trying to do good. The romance that grows between them, one without conditions, is an example of what everyone else is looking for.
That includes Elizabeth (Tess Harper) and Robert (Chris Sarandon), a conservative, religious couple whose son ran away from home. The loss troubles them, but then, many things do, not the least of which is the nudity displayed on a neighbor's lawn in the form of the Statue of David, and the two men who bought a neighbor's house, without a woman in sight. Thankfully, they are not the stereotypical fire-and-brimstone southern family, and instead present a more human aspect of what being religious is.
If you haven't put the pieces together by now, you're in for a surprise. But as you more than likely have, don't think you know the whole story. Much of why this movie is worth watching is how things happen, not what happens. Solid acting, including an out-of-character turn from Hunt, and quality directing and editing choices help keep the various strings of story together in a cohesive whole, and makes following the time lines easier than it could have been.
The trouble comes with the writing, which is often far too on-the-nose, as if trying to put a sign on a scene saying "This is important." Though the music montages are a bit overwrought, it doesn't get too far out of control, while some moments, like Robert's reaction to Elizabeth's revelation about her son, are a bit disrupting in their bluntness. Luckily, they aren't a massive problem, as Kirkland shows he's capable of getting more out of an economy of words, telling much about the characters through what might be considered throwaway lines.
On something of a sidenote, several sites online list "Savage" Steve Holland, of Better Off Dead fame, as a director on this film. I can't see the connection, other than a shared last name with producer Gill Holland, as the film has none of the director's trademark touches. If anyone can write in to explain this, please do so.
The sound is delivered in a Dolby Surround 2.0 track that remains center-focused throughout the film. That doesn't lend itself to any dynamic effects, but the dialogue is clean and the music comes across strong, without interfering in the mix.
A pair of interviews with Bonnie Hunt and Kip Pardue are the usual sit-downs done during press junkets, with the stars sitting in front of the film's poster. Together, they run about 14 minutes long, and the content is of the run-of-the-mill "What's it like to work with..." style.
The four minutes of deleted scenes show exactly why they were cut from the film, while the disc wraps up with a two-minute automatic photo gallery and a set of five trailers, including one for Loggerheads.
The Bottom Line