Wild Iris

This exquisitely acted woman's film, which debuted on Showtime, stacks the deck against the heroine's superficial mother. But it's still a superior example of the co-dependency soap opera. After his father's suicide eight years ago, adolescent Lonnie Bravard (Emile Hirsch) became the prime weapon in the ongoing psychological war between his alcoholic mother,...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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This exquisitely acted woman's film, which debuted on Showtime, stacks the deck against the heroine's superficial mother. But it's still a superior example of the co-dependency soap opera. After his father's suicide eight years ago, adolescent Lonnie Bravard (Emile Hirsch) became the prime weapon in the ongoing psychological war between his alcoholic mother, Iris (Laura Linney), and his flighty grandmother, Min (Gena Rowlands). Lacking a strong male authority figure, Lonnie has too much time to wonder whether he might have played some part in his father's despair, and the feuding Iris and Min are too busy tossing recriminations at each other to comfort him. Iris, who blames Min for her husband's death, resents Lonnie's affection for his grandmother and laces her sodas with vodka. When the overly sensitive Lonnie asks Min for advice, she responds with platitudes, and Iris is preoccupied with steeling her courage to find employment elsewhere. She finally applies for a job at the mall, and rejection sends her on a bender. Lonnie, meanwhile, tries to take his own life at the gas station where he works part-time, an act of desperation that the obtuse Min interprets as a form of cowardice. As Lonnie's life hangs in the balance, Iris realizes she must get her act together and make her son her priority. The film lays all the blame for everyone's troubles at Min's doorstep, but the astounding stars and brilliant newcomer Hirsch bring so more to the table that you could almost not notice. They suggest far more about their characters than screenwriter Kent Broadhurst's obvious script does, and are well served by Daniel Petrie's subtle direction.

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