Michael Winterbottom's 2008 drama suffers from an ending that seems abrupt, even arbitrary, but that may be partly because the characters' dire emotional issues are inherently irresolvable. A little girl (Perla Haney-Jardine) playfully clamps her hands over her mother's eyes as they're driving on an icy road and causes a head-on collision; the girl and her teenage sister (Willa Holland) survive, but the mother (Hope Davis) is killed. A mere five months later, the girls' father (Colin Firth) uproots the little family to accept a one-year professorship in Genoa, and their lingering grief, guilt, and resentment are starkly objectified by the narrow, tangled alleyways. The film is eerily persuasive in conjuring up a child's troubled mind, where delight, fantasy, and horror maintain a delicate balance. With Catherine Keener. Also known as Genova.94 min.
By J.R. Jones