There are ten short stories in A.M. Homes's collection The Safety of Objects, and writer-director Rose Troche (GO FISH, BEDROOMS & HALLWAYS) chose unwisely to weave six into a single screenplay. The result is a tangle of tangential subplots and tertiary characters crowding an already complicated story about four suburban families linked by a terrible car accident. Driving home after a gig, aspiring musician Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson) swerved to avoid hitting an oncoming car, instead crashing into an embankment. A year later, Paul is still in a coma, cared for at home by his attentive mother, Esther (Glenn Close). His teenaged sister, Julie (Jessica Campbell), resents the attention her mother lavishes on Paul, but she's found a way for Esther to make it up to her: Julie enters her mother in the marathon "Hands on a Hardbody" contest at the local mall. If Esther can outlast the other contestants without taking her hands off the car, Julie will drive home in a brand new SUV. Esther gets unexpected support from new neighbor Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney), a hardworking lawyer who went AWOL from work after a far less deserving associate was made partner over him. To the dismay of his wife, Susan (Moira Kelly), Jim finds renewed purpose in Esther's struggle her victory would reaffirm his shaken belief that if you play by the rules, you'll come out on top and begins spending all his time down at the mall, plying Esther with PowerBars and cheering her on. Meanwhile, Esther's next-door neighbor, divorcée Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson), is in a panic. Annette and Paul were dating at the time of the accident, and now her older daughter, Sam (PANIC ROOM's excellent Kirsten Stewart), is missing; Annette fears her disgruntled ex (Andrew Airlie) has taken the child to Mexico. Annette's friend Helen Christianson (Mary Kay Place) is having far more mundane problems, but her character, like a host of others, remains too undeveloped to really matter. Troche has bitten off quite a bit here, and it's too much for her to chew properly. Characters are virtually tripping over one another, while all the earmarks of Homes's twisted take on modern suburban life a young boy's sexual obsession with his younger sister's doll; a teenage girl masturbating alfresco; bad children who smoke cigarettes and set the woods on fire are relegated to the status of inconsequential asides.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: R
- Review: There are ten short stories in A.M. Homes's collection The Safety of Objects, and writer-director Rose Troche (GO FISH, BEDROOMS & HALLWAYS) chose unwisely to weave six into a single screenplay. The result is a tangle of tangential subplots and tertiary ch… (more)