There aren’t many actresses that excite me these days and this is for various reasons. It could simply be because they typecast themselves and make no attempt to branch out (Katherine Heigl), they’re just not that talented (Jennifer Aniston), they are only capable of showing one facial expression (Kristen Stewart), they are only onscreen because of their looks and have very little actual acting ability (Scarlett Johansson), I could go on, but one of the few that I do enjoy watching is Elizabeth Banks.
Banks is everything a lead actress should be. She has that great girl-next-door quality to her for the romance movies, she is definitely likeable in any role that she tries and best of all, she doesn’t typecast herself and appears in a wide variety of different movies. She rarely sticks to the same genre for too long and this is a sign of a good actress. I have no time for actresses that stick at what they know, even if they aren’t that good at what they know….I’m looking at you again, Katherine Heigl.
Anyway, I first heard about this myself a few months ago when it appeared on my Youtube subscriptions feed and although it didn’t astonish me, it did enough to leave me wanting to watch more. The reason I mention the trailer being important is that today marks the release of the second trailer for the new Star Wars film and I seem to be the only one still not excited by it (I cover my thoughts on the new Star Wars film here). The point I’m trying to make is that a trailer can make you want to watch a film and that’s it’s job.
I should stop waffling on and just review the film….
Amos Jenkins (Holbrook) is the only survivor of a coal mining accident that killed all ten of his colleagues. Despite the community initially being supportive of him, Jenkins soon becomes a suspect in the eyes of the community. He isn’t the only suspect though as Bill Doyle (Lucas), the boss of the mine, allegedly refused to follow basic safety regulations when sending workers down into the mine. His son, JT (Travis Tope) bullies a local boy named Owen (Lofland) to the point where he openly blames Jenkins for killing everyone else. An enraged JT chases Owen through the countryside before tripping and hitting his head on a rock, killing him instantly.
JT is reported as missing and it takes a huge tole on his mother, Diana (Banks). This, combined with Bill being suspended pending an investigation, drives the couple apart and Diana really struggles to cope. Meanwhile, Amos is suffering with post traumatic stress and an injury that has rendered his right arm useless, meaning that he can no longer work in a mine until further notice.
Diana attends a local bible studies group to try and make sense of why her son is missing and there she meets Amos. The two establish a connection and start an affair, but how long can they hide it, especially as Bill comes under increasing pressure as the evidence mounts against him.
Well I’m going to start with something that I have mentioned on numerous occasions and that is the film being recorded with a mix of handheld cameras and those set up on tripods or other such apparatus. When will film-makers realise that recording on handheld/shoulder mounted cameras are not a good idea when you’ve shown that you have equipment available. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that there are a lot of shots that you can get on a tripod/equivalent mounted camera, but for the most part it makes the film look very amateurish and quite frankly, I hate it.
There are many films that I have watched in recent years which have been perfectly good films in terms of acting and plot, but they have been practically unwatchable due to the camera work. For example, when I reviewed Tom à la ferme, I noted that whilst the film is fantastic and one of the strongest films that I have reviewed for this site, early on it is following the character of Tom so closely due to the handheld/shoulder mounted nature that when they follow him around a corner, they are focusing on his shoulder and it ruins a lot of the early film.
The strange thing is that whilst the director opts for that handheld/shoulder mounted cameras, creating the shaking effect, a lot of the scenes didn’t require it and could have easily been tripod mounted, improving the picture. For example, there is a scene after about an hour or so when Diana and Bill are talking about their personal issues, it does pan between the character, it remains stationary on them and yet doesn’t use a mounted camera, and so whilst trying to concentrate on what they’re saying, your eyes are constantly moving just to try and keep them within your line of sight. I’m not sure what comes closer to it, calling it careless or just lazy, but either way if you have poor camera work then it could ruin the rest of the film for you.
Now, whilst the camera work didn’t distract from the rest of the film with Tom à la ferme, I struggled to find Little Accidents as enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not awful, it’s a rather interesting story or the characters are well developed, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. There is just something missing that would make it something that would want to watch again, but without being able to quite figure out what it is, I can’t really suggest an improvement for it.
It could potentially be something which all films need to engage you as a viewer and that is correct pacing. The pacing is fairly consistent throughout but that’s not necessarily a good thing as the film never really seems to move forward. You’ve constantly got the feeling of it standing still and never moves out of 1st gear. It’s slow, turgid, and more than 100 of wanting something to actually progress the story properly. Don’t get me wrong, there are new aspects to the story throughout, but they are few and far between and because of this it feels like the story is never moving towards a natural conclusion.
As I say, the characters are excellently developed and portrayed, with Boyd Holbrook’s portrayal as Amos being a particular stand out. There is a scene where he is involved in a bible studies group and they are talking about negative aspects about their lives. Amos goes into how he feels after the accident and how he can’t get the faces of his now deceased colleagues out of his head. The anguish on his face and in his voice feels real, and you genuinely feel for the character as he confronts his demons.
Banks is also predictably fantastic as the torn woman and this is no more evident than in one of the last scenes when she finally finds out that her son is dead. You don’t hear anything that is being said in the conversation as it’s seen through a closed window, but the slow realisation and collapse tells you everything that you need to know and it rounds off a very solid performance from her. Is it one of the best performances of her career? No, not a chance, but it is solid. She is dependable and that’s all you can ask of your cast.
Whilst Little Accidents isn’t an awful film by any stretch of the imagination, it’s not good either. It’s one of those films which is just there and once you’ve seen it, you will never feel the need to watch it again, and that is probably the most telling aspect for me.
If you can get over the camera work and you don’t mind slow moving films then this is probably going to be a good film for you, but not me. I need something that can get me excited by what I am watching and unfortunately, despite it not being an awful film, Little Accidents fails miserably in that aspect.