Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sterling Jerins, Brooke Shields, Carrie Preston, Iwan Rheon, Paul Blackthorne, Poorna Jagannathan, Suzy Nakamura, Clayton Rohner, Beth LaMure, Kyle Red Silverstein, Nick Gore, Pierre Kennel, Jake Crawford
Written by: Beth LaMure
Directed by: Beth LaMure
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content including some drug material, brief strong language and some suggestive images
Running Time: 90
Date: 12/01/2017

Daisy Winters (2017)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Grave Concerns

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This weirdly blasé drama is under-directed to the point of being alternately lifeless and awkward, but the main character has an appealing spunkiness that sometimes elevates it to being serviceable.

In Daisy Winters, 11 year-old Daisy (Sterling Jerins) has a close relationship with her mother, Sandy (Brooke Shields); Daisy's father is a mystery that her mother has never told her about, and it has always been just the two of them. Unfortunately, Sandy has cancer, and it seems to be a losing battle. If Sandy dies, Daisy is to be sent to live with her strict, religious aunt (Carrie Preston).

Meanwhile, she and her best friend Jackson (Nick Gore) are fascinated with their neighbors, especially a sad man who commits suicide and a recluse who stays locked inside all the time. She also meets a new kid, Josh (Kyle Red Silverstein), and his cool, English, motorcycle-riding father (Paul Blackthorne). One day, while exploring the neighborhood, Daisy gets an unconventional idea that will allow her to stay put should the worst come to pass.

Daisy Winters is like a mashup of an after-school special, a straight-to-video weepie, and a disturbing psychological portrait. But director Beth LaMure can't seem to establish much of a tone for any of these events; everything is filmed in the most tiresomely basic way imaginable. Most scenes start on cue, with a character entering a room, a knock at the door, or a phone ringing, as if they were all practice exercises in filmmaking 101 class.

When the unthinkable moment happens, it's handled with such odd detachment that it's almost shocking. Perhaps worse is a soundtrack full of navel-gazing, mediocre pop music, helping to pass the time. The professional actors have a hard enough time as it is with their thin characters, especially Preston, who doesn't seem to get where her aunt character is coming from.

The younger actors are even stiffer; however, lead actress Jerins, a veteran of things like World War Z, The Conjuring, and Paterson, occasionally bursts to life with moments of thoughtful intuition; she makes Daisy a character that should have been worth a stronger, more daring movie.

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