Imaginary Heroes (18)

Written and directed by Dan Harris
Showing at FACT from 22nd - 28th July, 2005

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This superior drama set around a disintegrating American middle-class family is notable for outstanding performances by Sigourney Weaver, in the role of Sandy Travis, the fifty something hip mum, and Emile Hirsch, her son Tim in the film.

Serious questions about the validity of this family unit are asked throughout the movie after Sandy's older son Matt (Kip Pardue), despite seemingly having a bright future ahead of him, commits suicide by shooting himself.
The tragedy has a huge impact on the father Ben (Jeff Daniels), who ends up sitting in the park day after day mulling over his life and where he feels it went wrong, despite the material possessions he had garnered for his family. As well as trying to deal with this major setback he encounters conflict with Tim after he discovers that Ben is not his real father. Furthermore Sandy is rushed to hospital with suspected lung cancer after collapsing on the house porch.

It sounds grim stuff but surprisingly there are a lot of humourous and life affirming moments in the well observed dialogue delivered in the film, especially by Weaver, who perhaps gives the best performance of her career.
The interaction and sexual awakening of high school students is also accurately portrayed. However I was disappointed with the limp end to the production - it was a bit like the family were going to live happy ever after! - which in some ways spoilt what had been an engaging and intelligent film.

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