'Things That Hang From Trees'
(Deborah Kara Unger, Daniel von Bargen, Ray McKinnon, Peter Gerety, et al / DVD / NR / 2007 / Aviles Street Productions)
Overview: St. Augustine, Florida, 1969. An eight-year-old boy's wish to see the fireworks from atop the city's lighthouse is complicated by his odd neighbors, abusive peers, and hopeless parents. The young boy's seemingly simple goal develops into a struggle in which his life, both internal and corporeal, hangs in the balance.
DVD Verdict: 'Things That Hang from Trees,' the debut feature from American-born, Israeli-raised, Ido Mizrahy; and based on a novella by Aaron Louis Tordini, tells the tale of Connie Mae Wheeler (Unger), a single mother in St. Augustine, Florida whose reliance on a purse full of pharmaceuticals only increases her distance from the world. In this tale of adolescent angst, she's half-heartedly raising her 8-year-old boy, Tommy, (Cooper Musgrove), whilst spending most of her time either working in her lingerie shop or posing in its window, acting as a mannequin!
Tommy, meanwhile, is in a world of his own for a variety of reasons including his mother’s aloofness, childhood trauma, and what appears to be slight mental retardation. Though precious little really happens in 'Things That Hang from Trees,' Tommy’s desire to watch the annual fireworks display alone, from the top of the town lighthouse, gives it what passes for a plot.
Among those with whom Tommy comes into regular contact are a good-hearted town drunk (Peter Gerety); a two dimensional character for sure, but when collectively on the screen with others uniformly strong. Gerety plays Ump, a pained and stereotypical drunk (who-sees-all).
The problem, however, is that there’s not much else going on. 'Things That Hang from Trees' is a film that works very hard to convince its audience that it’s something it's not. Sure it occasionally overcomes its pretensions long enough to offer up some heartfelt visions of reality, but in the end as profound as it tries to be it comes up leaving the viewer somewhat robbed of the past 90 minutes or so.
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