First Hit: What was disappointing about this film was that it didn’t seem realistic.
Why would someone who’s hiding from the law, be so openly visible through the front windows and in the backyard? He was supposed to be hiding.
This is what I kept thinking while the story on the screen unfolded. Did I like the basis of the story? Yes, but it was this poor direction about the story that made it not work. We had great actors working with a reasonably good script/story and ignore the reason behind the story - one of the main characters was hiding out. An emotional and feeling based story, such as this, must also be logical in its execution.
Adele (Kate Winslet) is a depressed mother of a young pre-teen boy who, as we learned, is depressed because of 4 miscarriages and a stillborn child she had. These events put her into a tailspin from which she couldn’t escape. Her then husband wasn't strong enough to help her so he left. Her son, Henry (Gattlin Griffith), tries to be everything to his mom, her only friend, her housemate, and the man to do the chores around the house to help her survive.
In an infrequent outing to a store, Henry gets corralled by Frank (Josh Brolin) who is an escaped criminal. Frank talks Henry and Adele into letting him stay there a few hours which turns into a weekend. What we learn is that Frank, despite his physical presence of strength, is thoughtful, kind, wants to be helpful, is smart and cares.
His background story is told in flashbacks, that aren't very well scripted or put together - but the audience does figure it out. His strength of character comes through as he becomes a strong male role model for Henry by showing him how to hit a baseball (yes, they’re all openly in the backyard though he’s supposed to be hiding out). He cleans the house and fixes things a "man" might around the house. His coup-de-grace is that he shows Adele and Henry how to make a pie (this is a turning point scene).
However, despite engaged actors, the scenes weren’t congruent with the story – someone hiding out trying to escape being captured.
Winslet clearly knew how to take this role and deliver it. Griffith is really engaging as Henry and he did a good job of being both protective and open to change. Brolin was commanding of the screen when he was in it. Almost too commanding. Jason Reitman wrote and directed this film from Joyce Maynard’s novel. Felt that the screenplay was more effective than the direction which seemed too loose with the hideout theme.
Overall: Just didn’t hit the mark.