A tug-of-war over a modest San Francisco bungalow turns deadly in this over-baked adaptation of Andre Dubus III's 1999 novel. Miserable after being dumped by her husband, recovering coke-head Kathy Lazaro (Jennifer Connelly) wakes up to a bigger nightmare the morning deputies from the Pacific County Sheriff's Department evict her from her small house for...read more
A tug-of-war over a modest San Francisco bungalow turns deadly in this over-baked adaptation of Andre Dubus III's 1999 novel. Miserable after being dumped by her husband, recovering coke-head Kathy Lazaro (Jennifer Connelly) wakes up to a bigger nightmare the morning deputies from the Pacific County Sheriff's Department evict her from her small house for non-payment of back taxes. It seems that somewhere in that pile of mail Kathy's left unopened was a series of threatening notices from the county warning that if Kathy doesn't cough up $500 soon, she'll be out on the street. Deputy Sheriff Lester Burdon (Ron Eldard), a married man who's got cheating on his mind, helps Kathy move her stuff into storage, and when he finds out that she's living out of her car, he sets her up in a friend's fishing shack deep in the northern California woods. It's the least he can do: By this time, Kathy and Lester have become lovers. Kathy's house, meanwhile, is immediately put up for auction, and before Kathy's legal aide attorney (Frances Fisher) has a chance to file a complaint with the county, Kathy learns that her home now belongs to Colonel Massoud Amir Behrani (Sir Ben Kingsley), a former officer with the Iranian air force who, with his wife (Shohreh Aghdashloo) and two children (Jonathan Ahdout, Navi Rawat), was forced to flee Iran during the 1976 revolution. Having spent most of his savings keeping up an appearanc of wealth so that his daughter could marry into a "good" family, Massoud is now reduced to laying asphalt with a road crew by day and manning the register of a convenience store at night. But proud Massoud has big plans for the future. He and his family will move into Kathy's house, and once he's made a few changes, he'll put it on the market and wait for what he hopes will be a huge return on his small investment. Kathy, however, is determined to reclaim what she feels is rightfully hers, and Lester will stop at nothing to help her. As silly as it all sounds, Dubus's admittedly weak source material could have been successfully reworked into a sort of modern-day Spoils of Poynton, or at least PACIFIC HEIGHTS. But first-time feature director Vadim Perelman has little control over his characters; they simply go to pieces in the most ludicrous ways. He has even less control over Kingsley, who starts off strong but soon slips into full-blown Yul Brynner mode. One expects a firm "So it is written! So it shall be done!" after each of Massoud's many declamations.
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