Archived: 25 Jan 2007 | Filed In Film Reviews
By: Glenn Kenny
The debut feature from writer-director Karen Moncrieff doesn’t lack for challenging themes. Meg (Agnes Bruckner), the older of two daughters in a single-parent household, seems barely able to stand the company of her mother (Margaret Colin), and vice-versa; as they squabble, Meg’s young sister, Lily (Regan Arnold), begins to disintegrate into habits of self-mutilation and seeming schizophrenia. As it happens, Meg is also a talented, albeit novice, poet, and she attracts the attention and eventually the active encouragement of high school English teacher Mr. Auster (David Strathairn). While he says a lot of the right things to Meg, after a while the viewer has to wonder just how innocent his mentoring is, particularly since Meg is a girl who really seems to need a father figure in her life. Many of these issues come to a boil when Meg flees from her oppressive home to attend a poetry contest in Florida and meets Auster’s alcoholic, dismissive wife.
So—clearly, this picture is not to be confused with, say, Blue Crush. Moncrieff’s overriding theme here isn’t empowerment but survival. The movie crams a hell of a lot of dysfunction into its 88 minutes, and though some viewers whose opinions I respect found Blue Car an unremitting bummer, I admired its focus and integrity: Rare are the movies that convincingly depict a small child going mad. In order to do so, Moncrieff, a former actor herself, expertly directs her players, particularly Bruckner and little Regan Arnold—this movie is worth a look for the astounding efforts of the cast alone.