Never let it be said that Kevin Bacon shies away from a challenge: His second feature as director is an adaptation of Victoria Redel's disturbing 2002 novel about a mother's obsession with her young son. And while he assembled an admirably strong cast headed by his wife, Kyra Sedgwick his inability to strike a consistent tone is the film's undoing. Determined to have a child by any means necessary, but uninterested in anything so mundane as a husband, Emily Stoll (Sedgwick) travels the country in search of men whose genetic material meets her exacting standards. After countless fruitless sexual encounters, Emily finally gets pregnant by a poetic commodities trader (Campbell Scott); nine months later, voila: a child is born unto her. Emily (who speaks directly to us in an oddly pitched first-person voice-over) describes her son's early years as though they were the salad days of a great romance: She characterizes Paul (Dominic Scott Kay), whom she calls "Loverboy," as a young god, and tries to instill in him the same feeling of exceptionality she once felt as a child (played in flashback and with perfect sullen disgust by Bacon and Sedgwick's real-life daughter, Sosie Bacon), thanks to the attentions of a sexy and supercool neighbor (Sandra Bullock). Sadly, that feeling was crushed by Emily's teachers and parents (the latter played by Bacon and Marisa Tomei), groovy, self-absorbed lovebirds with eyes only for each other. As Paul gets a little older, Emily insists they camp out in the backyard and peruse the drawings of Leonardo. She reads him A Midsummer's Night Dream, they imagine journeys to faraway lands and whisper secret wishes into the ears of tolerant sheep. When anyone gets too close a neighbor, say, who wonders why Paul isn't in school Emily packs their bags and moves, rather than risk losing "Loverboy" to the system. But Paul begins to yearn for the company of other kids and with surprising self-possession demands to attend school. Feeling her iron grip beginning to loosen, Emily makes a desperate, disastrous decision. Bacon and screenwriter Hannah Shakespeare frame the story with a series of goofy scenes in which Emily appears to be teaching the 6-year-old Paul how to drive, the true, tragic import of which is unclear until the very end. Bacon and Shakespeare also cut back to scenes from Emily's childhood in the garish '70s, moments that feel comedic, cartoonish and less than believable. Meanwhile, the events leading up to the fateful climax feel like they're taken from a completely different movie. It all adds up to an unfortunate misfire: a film at odds with both its source material and itself.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: R
- Review: Never let it be said that Kevin Bacon shies away from a challenge: His second feature as director is an adaptation of Victoria Redel's disturbing 2002 novel about a mother's obsession with her young son. And while he assembled an admirably strong cast … (more)