If there's any film showing how financial suffering bogs down an atypical American family, look no further than Think of Me
, which recently screened at TIFF
. Set in Nevada, the bleak film gives us an up-close view of how poverty compels people to do things they eventually regret.
It couldn't have come at a better time: the U.S. Census Bureau reported
yesterday the American poverty rate has reached its highest level in 18 years. Angela (Lauren Ambrose
of Six Feet Under game) is one of those mothers trying to make ends meet, even if those ends rarely justify the means. She asks men she beds for money; she reconsiders keeping her dog; and she screams at her daughter (Audrey P. Scott
) when frustration boils over.
The pain Angela feels is all too believable, making the drama sink in deeper. She takes another job and plays slot machines at convenience stores. More scenes depict her financial struggle, but it's really the mother-daughter relationship propelling the film to a heady climax.
Scott's performance as eight-year-old Sunny is intriguing for its simplicity. Scott doesn't overact but instead relies on her tomboy charm to pull us into the story. She delivers dialogue with a punch at the right moments and even her expressionless face doesn't seem forced. Look for Scott to snag more quality roles as producers take notice of this budding talent.
As Angela, the wide-eyed Ambrose brings a ferocious intensity to her role. When she begins to crumble, the realism hits you in the stomach, especially when she's choking on tears. This is a woman torn by her parental duties and her desire to be free from debt. That pain is only made more visible through several metaphors, such as her constantly dying car. In one way, her car is a character in of itself.
Think of Me
might not be the best pick-me-up movie. Instead, it's a powerful portrayal of the despair many American families are facing today, and if it's too dark to stomach, then the film did its job.
Check out other TIFF reviews here.