Sunday, April 17, 2011

Talking Tribeca: Janie Jones

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from the Tribeca Film Festival. In no particular order, I present a look at one film per day. The Tribeca Film Festival takes place April 20th through May 1st.

Janie Jones
Directed by David M. Rosenthal
Festival Screenings

Since making her debut in “Signs” nine years ago, young actress Abigail Breslin, who just turned fifteen, has been showing increasing promise with the complex and mature roles she’s been taking. It’s no surprise, therefore, that she would be the perfect fit for the part of Janie Jones, a precocious girl whose junkie mother drops her off with the rock star father who didn’t know he had a kid. Janie is quickly thrown into the world of an out-of-control concert tour and encounters the band members just as they’re on the verge of breaking up. This film doesn’t purport to be wholly original in its concepts, but its characters and performers are memorable and dynamic. Breslin’s performance is effortless, and it’s clear that she’ll have no trouble getting good roles in the future. Alessandro Nivola commands the screen as Ethan in one of his first scenes when he comes face to face with the mother of his child (Elisabeth Shue), and it’s a damaged, believable portrayal that feels real. Joel Moore and Frank Whaley are great as unhappy members of the band, and it’s fun to see Peter Stormare (“Fargo”) out of his usual creeper mode as a disgruntled band manager. The standout in this talented cast is Brittany Snow, who has finally found a role that allows her to display more than bubbly pep, in all-too-brief appearance as Ethan’s band mate and girlfriend. The story itself takes many predictable turns and isn’t always fully capable of compellingly telling the story it wants to tell, but overall, it’s a positive showcase of performances and an enjoyable if familiar ride.

See it or skip it? See it if the story sounds like one you’d like!

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