THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS

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Release Date: March 07, 2003

Starring: Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney,
Jessica Campbell, Patricia
Clarkson, Joshua Jackson,
Moira Kelly, Robert Klein,
Timothy Olyphant, Kristen
Stewart, and Mary Kay Place

Genre: Drama

Audience: Adults REVIEWER: Katherine
Makinney THE SAFETY OF
OBJECTS, adapted by
writer-director Rose Troche
from a book of short stories
by A.M. Homes, is a bold,
ambitious and engaging work
that suffers from too much
story and not enough
cohesiveness. Two genres are
combined in THE SAFETY OF
OBJECTS, the proto-Altman
ensemble piece and the
suburban piece, but the result
is neither the poignancy of
MAGNOLIA nor the comedy of
ABOUT SCHMIDT. This project is
a welcome departure, however,
from Troche's past gay-themed
films, GO FISH and BEDROOMS
AND HALLWAYS. THE SAFETY OF
OBJECTS depicts the
intertwined stories of four
families, all of which are
going through their own
existential crises. The film
says that life is difficult
and confusing and in the end
we need each other, but says
nothing about true meaning
found in a relationship with
God. Glenn Close heads this
always engaging and impressive
cast as the matriarch of the
Gold family, Esther Gold. The
Golds live a quietly
despairing existence with
their son, Paul, who lies in a
coma in the upstairs bedroom.
Dermot Mulroney stars as Jim
Train, a high-powered
attorney, whose life of
12-hour workdays is shattered
when he's passed over for a
promotion. Annette Jennings
(Patricia Clarkson) is a
nearby single mother who is
simultaneously trying to raise
two girls while dealing with
an absent ex-husband who's in
arrears on child support. She
is also in mourning over the
loss of her boyfriend.
Annette's best friend, Helen
Christianson (Mary Kay Place),
feels lost and unloved in her
day-to-day existence as a wife
and mother of two, so she
dreams of having an
affair. Esther Gold decides to
earn the love of her neglected
daughter by winning a jeep in
a hard body contest. Jim Train
is astonished at how
dysfunctional his family is
when he spends his first day
at home in 12 years. In fact,
his young son is so alienated
that he has an on-going
perverted relationship with
his sister's Barbie doll.
Annette is belittled by both
her ex-husband and her
handyman (played by Timothy
Olyphant) as she tries to
raise her children and deal
with a past loss. The same
handyman rebuffs Helen as she
tries to escape her unhappy
existence. Jim finds "meaning
and purpose" by avoiding the
problems at home and work.
Instead, he becomes part of
the support team for Esther in
her hard-body competition.
Annette has a blow-up with her
ex-husband over Sam, one of
their daughters. She assumes
that he has kidnapped her.
Erstwhile Helen decides to go
home with some random guy she
met in a bar. In the third
act, all these characters have
been affected by a car
accident that occurred one
year before. The accident left
Paul Gold in a coma, his
family in a state of
not-quite-mourning, and
Annette without the only man
who ever really loved her.
This accident has also killed
the handyman's younger
brother. Troche does a good
job of slowly revealing what
actually happened and the
sadness that each of these
characters are experiencing,
but the threads lack thematic
cohesiveness. THE SAFETY OF
OBJECTS goes off in too many
directions and doesn't support
the main theme of suburbanites
losing touch with what's
important by worshiping their
possessions. In fact, Jim
doesn't worship possessions.
His idol was his work.
Esther's distraction was the
unresolved grief for her
comatose son. Annette just
seems to have received a few
harsh blows in life all at the
same time. Helen just seems
confused. All of these
characters suffer from lack of
meaning because there is no
meaning apart from God. It is
all vanity, even when we
cherish each other
appropriately. We were made
for God, not just each other.
The movie misses this point.
In fact, in one beautifully
acted monologue, Close gives
Mulroney this piece of advice,
"When you pray, be very
specific because God has a
wicked sense of humor. Even
though He knows what you mean,
He gives you just what you ask
for and nothing more." So,
while the acting is superb
(and features the always
wonderful Moira Kelly) and the
tapestry is rich and engaging,
THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS
addresses a small truth about
the importance of
relationships but not the
bigger truth of life found in
God. What the movie does try
to say, it says clumsily
because the stories don't
strongly support the
theme. This film may offend
some because there is a weird
relationship between a young
boy and a doll, the young boy
tries to play doctor with one
of his female friends, and one
scene features the teenage
daughter of Close
masturbating. Please address
your comments to: Joshua
Sapan, President/CEO IFC
Films/IFC
Entertainment Rainbow Media
Holdings, Inc. (Independent
Movie Channel/IFC Films/Bravo
Networks) 200 Jericho
Quadrangle Jericho, NY
11753 Phone: (516)
803-3000 Fax: (516)
803-4616 Website:
www.ifctv.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 121 minutes

Distributor: IFC Films

Director: Rose Troche EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Stephen Evans,
Angus Finney, Jody Patton, and
Pamela Koffler

Executive Producer:

Producer: Stephen Evans, Angus Finney,
Jody Patton, and Pamela
Koffler PRODUCERS: Dorothy
Berwin and Christine Vachon

Writer: Rose Troche BASED ON A BOOK OF
STORIES BY: A. M. Homes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(HH, Ab, FR, LL, SS, A, D, M) Humanist worldview; character says, "When you pray, be very specific because God has a wicked sense of humor. Even though He knows what you mean, He gives you just what you ask for and nothing more"; nine obscenities; no violence; one scene of teenagers making out, two scenes of boy playing inappropriately with a doll (in a sexual manner) and one scene of a teenage girl masturbating; alcohol use; no nudity; and, smoking.

GENRE: Drama

HH

Ab

FR

LL

SS

A

D

M

Summary:

THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS depicts the intertwined stories of four families, all of which are going through their own existential crises while sharing a common core. Jaded spirituality and scenes of twisted sexuality make this movie inappropriate for moral moviegoers.

Review:

THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS, adapted by writer-director Rose Troche from a book of short stories by A.M. Homes, is a bold, ambitious and engaging work that suffers from too much story and not enough cohesiveness.

Two genres are combined in THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS, the proto-Altman ensemble piece and the suburban piece, but the result is neither the poignancy of MAGNOLIA nor the comedy of ABOUT SCHMIDT. This project is a welcome departure, however, from Troche's past gay-themed films, GO FISH and BEDROOMS AND HALLWAYS.

THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS depicts the intertwined stories of four families, all of which are going through their own existential crises. The film says that life is difficult and confusing and in the end we need each other, but says nothing about true meaning found in a relationship with God.

Glenn Close heads this always engaging and impressive cast as the matriarch of the Gold family, Esther Gold. The Golds live a quietly despairing existence with their son, Paul, who lies in a coma in the upstairs bedroom. Dermot Mulroney stars as Jim Train, a high-powered attorney, whose life of 12-hour workdays is shattered when he's passed over for a promotion. Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson) is a nearby single mother who is simultaneously trying to raise two girls while dealing with an absent ex-husband who's in arrears on child support. She is also in mourning over the loss of her boyfriend. Annette's best friend, Helen Christianson (Mary Kay Place), feels lost and unloved in her day-to-day existence as a wife and mother of two, so she dreams of having an affair.

Esther Gold decides to earn the love of her neglected daughter by winning a jeep in a hard body contest. Jim Train is astonished at how dysfunctional his family is when he spends his first day at home in 12 years. In fact, his young son is so alienated that he has an on-going perverted relationship with his sister's Barbie doll. Annette is belittled by both her ex-husband and her handyman (played by Timothy Olyphant) as she tries to raise her children and deal with a past loss. The same handyman rebuffs Helen as she tries to escape her unhappy existence.

Jim finds "meaning and purpose" by avoiding the problems at home and work. Instead, he becomes part of the support team for Esther in her hard-body competition. Annette has a blow-up with her ex-husband over Sam, one of their daughters. She assumes that he has kidnapped her. Erstwhile Helen decides to go home with some random guy she met in a bar.

In the third act, all these characters have been affected by a car accident that occurred one year before. The accident left Paul Gold in a coma, his family in a state of not-quite-mourning, and Annette without the only man who ever really loved her. This accident has also killed the handyman's younger brother.

Troche does a good job of slowly revealing what actually happened and the sadness that each of these characters are experiencing, but the threads lack thematic cohesiveness. THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS goes off in too many directions and doesn't support the main theme of suburbanites losing touch with what's important by worshiping their possessions. In fact, Jim doesn't worship possessions. His idol was his work. Esther's distraction was the unresolved grief for her comatose son. Annette just seems to have received a few harsh blows in life all at the same time. Helen just seems confused.

All of these characters suffer from lack of meaning because there is no meaning apart from God. It is all vanity, even when we cherish each other appropriately. We were made for God, not just each other. The movie misses this point. In fact, in one beautifully acted monologue, Close gives Mulroney this piece of advice, "When you pray, be very specific because God has a wicked sense of humor. Even though He knows what you mean, He gives you just what you ask for and nothing more."

So, while the acting is superb (and features the always wonderful Moira Kelly) and the tapestry is rich and engaging, THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS addresses a small truth about the importance of relationships but not the bigger truth of life found in God. What the movie does try to say, it says clumsily because the stories don't strongly support the theme.

This film may offend some because there is a weird relationship between a young boy and a doll, the young boy tries to play doctor with one of his female friends, and one scene features the teenage daughter of Close masturbating.

Please address your comments to:

Joshua Sapan, President/CEO

IFC Films/IFC Entertainment

Rainbow Media Holdings, Inc.

(Independent Movie Channel/IFC Films/Bravo Networks)

200 Jericho Quadrangle

Jericho, NY 11753

Phone: (516) 803-3000

Fax: (516) 803-4616

Website: www.ifctv.com

SUMMARY: THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS depicts the intertwined stories of four families, all of which are going through their own existential crises while sharing a common core. Jaded spirituality and scenes of twisted sexuality make this movie inappropriate for moral moviegoers.

In Brief: