Accidents HappenJanuary 3, 2009
There are dysfunctional families… and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom…
Release Year: 2009
Rating: 6.1/10 (1,489 voted)
Stars: Geena Davis, Harrison Gilbertson, Harry Cook
There are dysfunctional families… and then there are the Conways. After a family tragedy, 15-year-old Billy Conway has become the de facto glue between his bitter mom, distant brother, and stoic dad. But when Billy starts to act out, everything changes for him and his family.
(as Katrina Retalick)
Release Date: 3 Jan 2009
Filming Locations: Fox Studios, Moore Park, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Box Office Details
Budget: AUD 6,000,000
I've got static to watch.
Showcase of solid characterization, screen writing and performances
Accidents Happen Sydney Film Festival, June 2009 I was sold on this
film by a description of Geena Davis who "shines as the screwball
mother". The SFF program seemed to promise a screwball family comedy,
with Davis' fearlessness in performance carrying the required bravado.
So I was surprised when the opening sequence, a slow-motion shot of a
playing child interrupted by an elderly neighbour accidentally
barbecuing himself, suggested another tone was in the offing: a
coming-of-age black comedy. That combination works well here.
To labour the labeling a little, ladling on a portmanteau, ACCIDENTS
HAPPEN is a 'dramedy'. It's a realistic story of an early 80s suburban
family unit fractured by an auto accident. The emotional weight of
their tragedy squeezes absurdity out of the cracks in their stasis.
Gloria Conway (Davis) turns her rapid-fire wit to lashing her 'useless'
ex-husband but that is clearly a losing game for her as she is not much
more on top of her grief for their lost children than he is.
The relationship between surviving but bereft younger son Billy and his
ballsy mother is the meat of the film. They present a remarkably
compelling take on an interdependent relationship. They made me really
care that they would work it out, and a refreshing change from the
common film stereotype of merely alienated teens.
The film overall is a showcase of great characterization through screen
writing and performances, not just from the poised teen-aged leads but
also minor characters like the barbecue-induced widow Mrs Smolensky.
She steps startlingly out of being a background character in the payoff
scene at the film's end.
That final sequence also left me backpedaling on conclusions I leapt to
earlier about the film's symbolism. Up until that point, the crucial
role of a bowling ball in the plot lent itself to symbolism of
emotional baggage, a crushing burden to carry and destructively out of
control when neglected. That ball's ultimate destination revealed over
the end-credits indicates the authors either didn't have that in mind,
or were pointing us to some other significance entirely. Comments here
suggesting what that significance might be are very welcome.
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