Fireflies in the Garden (15)

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The Independent Culture

An agonisingly sincere drama of familial dysfunction, this is notable for some very basic miscasting.

First up is Ryan Reynolds as a celebrated novelist returning to his midwestern home to find that he still can't stand his tyrannical father, Willem Dafoe. Reynolds, a decent comic actor, hasn't got the chops for this sensitive misfit, and Dafoe isn't convincing as the waspy patriarch who bullied him. Julia Roberts has a supporting role as the latter's wife, but her story is undermined by casting Ioan Gruffud as her too youthful paramour. Flashbacks to the protagonist's literary indiscretion carry a whiff of Tobias Wolff's novel Old School, though it lacks the book's charm. There just isn't enough to distinguish it from dozens of other damaged-family memoirs.

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