3/10
A too-happy ending
31 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
We all know by now that this is a movie about a now-successful writer's horrendous childhood. Raised in a family with two unstable parents, one of whom was a roaring alcoholic and other an enabler par excellence, she was abused, neglected, manipulated, and, confusingly, sometimes told she was loved. The timeline of that experience is not clear in the movie, how she gets from being "home-schooled" as in given books to read without direction, to being a scholarship student at Barnard is vague. Obviously, it happened.

While telling the story of that abusive childhood is a major part of the movie, the really unsettling part is the de rigeur forgiveness and redemption of the parents. By the end of the movie, there's nothing left but happy memories because when their smart, self-educated father wasn't extremely drunk, he could be very creative and engaging. Forgiving is wonderful and necessary. Forgetting leaves mistakes to be repeated.

It's well acted by Harrellson - it's a rich part, tailor- made for him - not ot so much by Watts who simply seems to be miscast. Performances by the various Jeannettes as they are growing up are compelling.

But I couldn't possibly recommend this movie to anyone. Surely the book was more nuanced in its approach to such a complicated life story.
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