The dialogue that articulates the Albright’s cramped situation is often bland and oversimplified, but it’s still a (pleasant) shock to see an American feature film about the financial collapse in anything other than genre-based metaphors (like, say, the excellent crime film thriller “Killing Them Softly” did).
When Kay goes to the bank to get a loan, the bank teller reviews her application and wants to know if her husband is sick, and if not, why he isn’t working. “Even a minimum wage job would look better than things are now,” he says.
We later learn that friends and relatives largely abandoned the Albrights in their time of need. There is a paranoid indication that people have stopped answering their calls because they don’t want to hear about their suffering or risk being asked for money. When the priest in their church says, “Where is the joy in life that is not mixed with sorrow?” it sounds less like a balm than a subterfuge. “This place is a coffin,” Glenn grumbles as the family moves to a smaller place.
The big problem with this film is that it focuses more than half of its running time on a vanilla romance between Glenn and Kay’s teenage son Jim (Hero Fiennes Tiffin, son of director Martha Fiennes and cousin of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes) and his classmate Ann. (Sydney Park). The film is the most Malick-esque when it comes to the young couple, but not in a good way. Edwards, cinematographer Jeff Bierman and editor Alec Styborski serve up lyrical montages and dreamy, soundless images as if to capture some of the mysterious magic of the central love stories in Malick’s “The New World” and “To the Wonder.” †