Schoolyard angst and affluent dysfunction come together like peanut butter and jelly in Noah Pritzker’s feature debut as writer and director.
Everyone is medicated in this family drama that at first evokes Robert Redford’s claustrophobic ORDINARY PEOPLE, as its impersonal parenting and self-conscious wealth suck the oxygen right out of the family living room. Impersonal sex is a modern addition here, as everyone strives to find human connections in a suddenly confusing world.
Ingenue Clark Rayman (Benjamin Konigsberg) is increasingly dissatisfied with his parents’ sloppy personal growth and excuses for failure, as his mother enters rehab for a benzodiazapine dependency and his father can barely make coffee. “It’s not an addiction!” grouses Clark’s father, played to excruciating, self-absorbed perfection by Greg Germann. Academy Award-winner Mira Sorvino (MIGHTY APHRODITE) crafts a deft performance as Clark’s concerned mother, but is only seen on visits to her rehab Eden by the sea, where her recovery is aided by a handsome man emerging from her bathroom.
Meanwhile, Clark’s girlfriend, Natalia, played by Morgan Turner (HBO's "Mildred Pierce"), conjures a young Jennifer Jason Leigh as she endures Clark’s efforts to infiltrate her own family. Kara Hayward, familiar to fans of "Moonrise Kingdom", is now fully grown with a quiet intensity that invokes anticipation as she plays a friend of Clark’s with her own problems at home, namely that it no longer exists. Her energy jumpstarts scenes with an impassive Kieran Culkin, who plays a literature professor. Saffron Burrows and television regular Scott Lawrence also take impressive turns as Natalia’s parents.