×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Arcadia

Debutante writer-helmer Olivia Silver's "Arcadia" features a dysfunctional family taking a road trip and stars John Hawkes: In every respect, it feels like a typical Sundance film, except that it wasn't actually there this year (although the short it's based on, "Little Canyon," played Park City in 2009).

With:
With: Ryan Simpkins, John Hawkes, Kendall Toole, Ty Simpkins.

Debutante writer-helmer Olivia Silver’s “Arcadia” features a dysfunctional family taking a road trip and stars John Hawkes: In every respect, it feels like a typical Sundance film, except that it wasn’t actually there this year (although the short it’s based on, “Little Canyon,” played Park City in 2009). By the same token, this amiable-enough indie entertainment would be right at home on an upscale movie channel, but the script is soporifically predictable, and perfs and direction are all adequate but no more. Pic is likely to drive around the fest circuit and possibly park in niche distribution before reaching the ancillary junkyard.

Story unfolds mostly through the eyes of 12-year-old Greta, aka “Griz” (Ryan Simpkins, “A Single Man” and “Revolutionary Road”), who, along with her older sister, Caroline (Kendall Toole), and 9-year-old brother, Nat (Ryan’s real-life sibling Ty Simpkins), is being forced by her dad, Tom (Hawkes), to move cross-country from New England to Arcadia, Calif. Tom hustles them all into the family station wagon one morning and hits the road, promising that their absent mother, who’s supposedly visiting her sister, will join them out on the West Coast later.

The kids know Mom doesn’t want to go any more than they do, but the long-unemployed Tom has been offered a fuzzily defined job he can’t turn down. Overhearing snatches of angry conversation between Tom and others on the phone, Griz senses there’s more going on than her father or big sister are telling her. Even though she’s just starting puberty, Griz still clings to her favorite stuffed toy, a rabbit called Harrison, a symbol of innocence clearly destined to be sacrificed at some point to mark the end of childhood.

Most of the action takes place in the car, where Tom tries to keep the kids’ spirits up with jokes and stories when he’s not snapping at them in annoyance. Pugnacious and argumentative, he gets into road-rage arguments with other drivers and at one point refuses to pay the fees to visit the Grand Canyon, dashing little Nat’s dreams. Clearly, he’s not father-of-the-year material, but of course, Griz will learn that not everything is as it seems, especially where her mother is concerned.

The ever-reliable Hawkes does what he can with the material, but his part is too thinly written to convince, although he’s a charismatic presence as ever with his wiry frame and large, lively eyes. The kid characters have more meat on their bones, and Silver is especially good at capturing the mercurial chemistry between teenage sisters, snarling at each other one minute and giving each other leg-shaving lessons the next. That said, there’s something a bit too polished and precociously pert about the younger thesps’ line deliveries that irritates throughout. A more relaxed approach to the script might have been in order, giving them more latitude to improvise.

Even the lensing, a bit overexposed and chockfull of grain, feels rote as it regurgitates the obligatory seedy highway vistas and hotels-at-dusk nocturnes. Twangy score by the Low Anthem is agreeable but likewise standard-issue.

Arcadia

Production: A Poisson Rouge Pictures, DViant Films production in association with Madrose Prods., Shrink Media Entertainment. (International sales: Visit Films, Brooklyn.) Produced by Julien Favre, Silenn Thomas, Jai Stefan. Executive producers, Jeremy Bailer, Bibi Arteaga. Directed, written by Olivia Silver.

Crew: Camera (color, Panavision widescreen), Eric Lin; editor, Jennifer Lee; music, the Low Anthem; music supervisor, Dave Golden; production designer, Adriana Serrano; art director, Nathan W. Bailey; set decorator, Lisa Son; costume designer, Kim H. Ngo; sound (Dolby Digital), Ryan Jennings; sound designer, re-recording mixer, Tom Paul; casting, Emily Schweber. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb. 13, 2012. Running time: 90 MIN.

Cast: With: Ryan Simpkins, John Hawkes, Kendall Toole, Ty Simpkins.

More Scene

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

  • Chrissy Metz'Breakthrough' Film Premiere, Arrivals, Regency

    Why 'This Is Us' Star Chrissy Metz Could End Up Performing at the Next Oscars

    Chrissy Metz made her live-singing debut on Sunday when she performed “I’m Standing With You” from her new movie “Breakthrough.” Was that just a step on her way to performing at the Oscars? Could be. The song was written by 10-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren. “They said Chrissy had to sing it and I was [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Disney's Bob Iger Blasts Hateful Political Discourse and Social Media: 'We Can Do Better'

    Bob Iger didn’t mince words while being honored Thursday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Upon receiving the Humanitarian Award at the organization’s National Tribute Dinner from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO delivered a scathing critique of social media and the current state of political discourse. “Hate and anger are dragging us [...]

  • David Harbour'Hellboy' special film screening, Arrivals,

    Why David Harbour Just Compared 'Hellboy' to 'Hamlet'

    David Harbour understands if movie-goers don’t realize he’s the star of the new “Hellboy.” “I was kind of stunned. It’s quite a transformation. I didn’t even recognize myself,” the “Stranger Things” star recalls about seeing himself for the first time as the half-demon superhero. “And as the process went on I started to actually fetishize [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content