Every Day -- Film Review
EmptyAs baby-boomer screenwriters grapple in increasing numbers with elderly infirm parents, we can no doubt expect more and more films dealing with the subject. Arriving on the heels of such similarly themed features as "The Savages" and "Happy Tears" is this debut feature from writer/director Richard Levine. But for all its contemporary social relevance and the fine performances from an excellent ensemble, the cliched characters and situations on display in "Every Day" -- which recently received its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival -- ultimately detract from its impact.
The film depicts the rude arrival of seriously ill Ernie (Brian Dennehy) into the household of daughter Jeannie (Helen Hunt), her husband Ned (Liev Schreiber) and their two children. Jeannie, who has long had a troubled relationship with her cantankerous father, basically drops everything to care for him, receiving moral but less practical support from her work-harried husband.
Fully in the throes of a mid-life crisis, Ned works as a writer for a cable TV drama series whose producer (Eddie Izzard) demands ever more salacious storylines. Sexually frustrated at home, he becomes increasingly receptive to the not-so-subtle advances of co-worker Robin (Carla Gugino), a sexy, free-spirited temptress whose motto "live for today" is expressed in her heavy consumption of booze and drugs and habit of skinny-dipping in her underground pool.
Also heavily weighing on Ned's mind is the burgeoning gay sexuality of his teenage son Jonah (Ezra Miller), which he is less than eager to see explored.
The film vividly conveys the day-to-day difficulties of coping with the intense physical and emotional demands placed on adult children of elderly parents, and such characters as the curmudgeonly Ernie -- embittered by the death years earlier of his young son -- are drawn with complexity.
But the numerous subplots are less illuminating than distracting, with Ned's creative difficulties at work (perhaps inspired by the filmmaker's real-life experiences as a writer/producer/director on FX's "Nip/Tuck") not exactly something to which most audience members will find relatable.
The performances are generally excellent: a low-key, underplaying Schreiber well conveys Ned's passive resignation; Hunt impressively depicts Jeannie's simultaneous feelings of resentment and responsibility; Miller is affecting as the rebellious older son; and Dennehy brings complex shadings to what in lesser hands might have been a one-note character.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Cold Iron Pictures)
Production: Ambush Entertainment
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Carla Gugino, Ezra Miller, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard, Skyler Fortgang, David Harbour
Director/screenwriter: Richard Levine
Producers: Miranda Bailey, Matthew Leutwyler
Executive producer: Sam Hoffman
Director of photography: Nancy Schreiber
Production designer: Adam Stockhausen
Costume designer: Ane Crabtree
Music: Jeanine Tesori
Not rated, 93 mins.