Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: J. K. Simmons, Julie Delpy, Josh Wiggins, Odeya Rush, Jae Head, Tom Amandes, Kevin Dunn,
Written by: Kurt Voelker
Directed by: Kurt Voelker
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 99
Date: 10/20/2017
IMDB

The Bachelors (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Singled Out

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

While this material could easily have tumbled over the edge in any direction, writer/director Kurt Voelker presents it as a balanced, nuanced, and gentle family story that becomes genuinely touching.

In The Bachelors, Bill Palet (J.K. Simmons) suddenly decides, following the death of his beloved wife, to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles with his teenage son Wes (Josh Wiggins). There, he hopes for a fresh start at a prep school, where an old college buddy (Kevin Dunn) is headmaster, himself as a teacher and Wes as a student.

Sports are mandatory and Wes goes out for cross-country, while Bill begins seeing a therapist (Harold Perrineau). Wes also has a French class where his teacher, Carine (Julie Delpy) assigns him to tutor the troubled Lacey (Odeya Rush). Wes and Lacey begin a tentative, uneasy friendship, while Carine strikes up a friendship with the lonesome, grieving Bill. Can these two bachelors learn to love again?

The Bachelors might have been too goopy or maudlin, dealing as it does with the death of a loved one, but it's brave enough to face grief in a real way. The characters might have been one-dimensional, defined by their loss and presented as helpless, but they are not helpless. They have realistic strengths and weaknesses.

The movie could have been cutesy, with little musical montages and attempts at quirkiness, but even its motif of the car with the reverse-facing passenger seat seems to flow right along with the story.

Credit must be given to the excellent cast, especially J.K. Simmons and Julie Delpy who soften the edge they have shown in other movies and play up appealing vulnerabilities. Josh Wiggins and Odeya Rush are likewise very good, playing something close to human beings, rather than a movie's idea of "teenagers."

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