Fireflies in the Garden (15)

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The Independent Culture

In Fireflies in the Garden, Ryan Reynolds heads an overqualified ensemble cast to play a writer who's just finished a warts-and-all novel about his childhood. He then flies to the rural Midwest to visit his parents, Willem Dafoe and Julia Roberts (in old-woman make-up), but, just before he arrives, Roberts is killed in a car accident, which is the cue for hugs, recriminations, and numerous flashbacks to Reynolds' formative years. Emily Watson, his aunt, scolds him for writing a scandalous roman-à-clef which will lay bare the family's darkest secrets, so you'd assume that the flashbacks would reveal some pretty juicy traumas. No such luck. The crux of this dawdling, self-indulgent melodrama is that Dafoe is a cold father, but his paternal tyrannies are so insignificant that Reynolds would be lucky to get a short story out of them.