Rails & Ties

Alison Eastwood, whose good looks and last name have served her well as a Hollywood actress, makes her directing debut with this mediocre cancer drama. Kevin Bacon does his best impersonation of the director's dad as a taciturn railroad engineer who's brought up for review after his LA-to-Seattle passenger train kills a suicidal woman parked on the tracks. When the woman's traumatized 11-year-old son shows up on the engineer's doorstep to hurl accusations at him, his stage-four wife (Marcia Gay Harden) insists on caring for the orphaned child. The opening act is strong, but the story's trajectory is so obvious this often seems to be traveling along tracks as well—into a valley of soapsuds. PG, 108 min.

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