A young boy’s story of finding his estranged father intertwines with that of a girl 50 years previous.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” The movie starts with a dream of wolves and this quote, which introduces us to Ben, the vulnerable protagonist of this story. In the first few minutes we learn that he’s living with his aunt and cousins after the death of his mother. It soon cuts to 50 years previously in 1927 where a deaf girl is searching for a famous actress she appears to be an admirer of.
It’s from here that the film intertwines it’s story, showing their paths both of which lead to New York. Ben, played by Oakes Fegley, makes his way using a coach after escaping from a hospital following an accident. His clues lead him on different roads to find out about his father. Whereas Rose (Millicent Simmonds) runs away from home to escape her repressed childhood and frightful father.
Along the way we’re introduced to Ben’s mother, Elaine (Michelle Williams), Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore) and Jamie (Jaden Michael), a friend Ben makes whilst searching for answers. His father works at the museum of natural history so it’s here where the pair bond in the way children do; curiosity.
Both Oakes and Millicent give decent performances to portray the struggles they would be going through in different times, however when you have a cast that includes Michelle Williams, who pretty much just makes a cameo and Julianne Moore, there is no competing. The two are effortlessly brilliant as ever, Williams once again picking a relatively small film and Moore expressing everything in the odd look here and there. You can see it all in her face.
However these two are not enough to save what is a pretty flimsy film. The intricate weave it’s trying to put together doesn’t quite pay off. It struggles with the amount of time it spends with Jamie, who doesn’t have a narrative point and serves absolutely no purpose. If anything he slows down our protagonist in getting to where he needs to go. This creates a lengthy running time of almost two hours, with a film that should really be an hour and half. Tops.
With an interesting premise and a promising start, this is a movie being pushed down by it’s inability to cut scenes from a weighty script.
2 out of 5.
Keep. It. Reel.