Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Movie with Abe: Weightless

Directed by Jaron Albertin
Released November 9, 2018

Being a parent doesn’t come with a manual, and unlike many other big life decisions, it doesn’t necessarily require the same legwork or research, nor proof of competency. There are couples who talk out the optics of having children and plan heavily ahead of time, while others may not be in a committed relationship or may be surprised by the news that they are expecting. As soon as the baby arrives, parents must step into that role, and for some that moment may come later on in a child’s life due to unforeseen circumstances, which can present the same challenges and realities: that someone in just not ready or equipped to be a parent.

Joel (Alessandro Nivola) works in waste management, transporting and organizing trash. He goes for drinks with his work colleagues, and carries on a romantic relationship with a local doctor, Janeece (Julianne Nicholson). Otherwise, he lives a mostly solitary life, perceived by many as a strange loner. His quiet, uneventful life is upended when he receives a call that he must now take responsibility for his son, Will (Eli Haley), a ten-year-old boy he’s never met. Though he is told by social workers that Will is better off in foster care, Joel seems intent on maintaining his attachment to the son he really doesn’t know.

Both Joel and Will express similar detachments from social life, with Joel choosing to isolate himself and Will experiencing a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps his sentences short and infrequent. He opens up only to one girl from his quiet neighborhood, while other kids torment him by taunting his weight and lack of social skills. Janeece serves as the sole element who supports them both, seeing Will for the scared boy he is and Joel for his positive attributes and silent charm. Those relationships are endearing, and they create the strongest points of a meandering film without a real center.

Nivola delivers a muted performance that can’t possibly compare to his far more resounding and meditative turn in “Disobedience” earlier this year. He’s a talented actor but not used to much effect. Nicholson, on the other hand, is typically wonderful, and she is the only real saving grace of the film. Its title might apply to the feeling that either Joel or Will have as they experience the world, but it’s an unfinished idea, one that doesn’t particularly go anywhere. This is a miserable, depressing film that doesn’t appear to have a point, exploring this family unit’s lives without achieving any sort of realization either for them or the audience.


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