"From Spinning to Roots"
What You Need To Know:
The low budget no-name cast TUMBLEWEEDS is a poor women’s ANYWHERE BUT HERE. Unwed mother Mary Jo’s asthmatic daughter Ava is sick of the same old cycle of her mother shacking up with strange men, full of promises of love, then fighting, and leaving to who-knows-where. They end up in San Diego where they shack up with a trucker named Jack. When Jack blows up one night at dinner, Mary Jo decides to leave for Arizona. Ava doesn’t want to go, however. Ava’s inner resolve and the aid of a kind man deter Mary Jo from running again.
While love and patience win out over fear, this movie lacks subtle, detailed nuances. Ava is nobler than her mother, primarily because of her resolve. Regrettably, she uses foul language. Mary Jo remains largely deplorable for her weak will, her sexual proclivities and lack of discernment. Mary Jo shows her daughter many skills, but these skills are mainly limited to kissing boys and using feminine products. She imparts no genuine lessons on love or matters of faith, because she is quite shallow. Gentle, lightweight but generally unremarkable, TUMBLEWEEDS never rises above the white trash mother whom it features
(PaPa, B, LLL, V, SS, NN, AA, DD, M) Pagan worldview featuring the moral love between mother & daughter with pagan elements of pursuing pleasures & avoiding painful situations; 26 obscenities, 15 profanities, girl’s swearing, & vulgar motions; brief but intense scene of domestic violence including threats & breaking property; implied fornication, some heavy kissing, woman exposes her breasts offscreen, mocking sexual play, cross-dressing, & talk of masturbation; several scenes of woman wearing only underwear; alcohol use & drunkenness implied; smoking & implied use of coffee enemas; and, lying, littering & many domestic squabbles.
The low budget no-name cast TUMBLEWEEDS is a poor man’s (or rather poor women’s) ANYWHERE BUT HERE. TUMBLEWEEDS virtually is the same story as ANYWHERE BUT HERE, where a mother runs off with her daughter to settle down and find a place to work and live, but wanderlust seems to rear its ugly head. Well acted, with a great performance by young Kimberly J. Brown as 12-year-old Ava, it advocates love and provides some slight personal growth among the two trash-talking/trash-living female leads.
The movie starts with Mary Jo (Janet McTeer) facing verbal abuse and threats of physical abuse from the man with whom she is currently living, somewhere in the rural South (though this was clearly filmed in California). Mary Jo’s asthmatic daughter is sick of the same old cycle: her mother shacking up with strange men, promises of love, then fighting, then leaving to who-knows-where. On the road again, they break down and are aided by a dumb but muscular trucker named Jack (Gavin O’Connor). Mary Jo is instantly smitten, but thinks she’ll never see Jack again since they are driving in opposite directions.
Eventually, Mary Jo and Ava decide to settle in San Diego, Calif. There, Ava loves the water and is even making friends at school. Mary Jo gets a job as a secretary at a small business and likewise makes friends. One night, Mary Jo and a female co-worker run into Jack at a bar. Mary Jo immediately moves into Jack’s house with Ava. Ava can see Jack is going to be bad news, but obliges her mother. When Jack blows up one night at dinner, Mary Jo decides to leave and wants to pack up Ana and move to Arizona. Ava doesn’t want to leave. She has the role of “Romeo” in her school’s performance of ROMEO AND JULIET, and she is getting to know a boy in her class. Ava’s inner resolve and the aid of a kind man deter Mary Jo from running again.
While love and patience win out over fear, this movie doesn’t have some complicating detailed nuances of ANYWHERE BUT HERE. Hence, it is an inferior picture. That is not because of the acting performances. Both Janet McTeer and Kimberly Brown rise above the limiting script that paints Mary Jo as merely a stereotypical white trash mom and the ensuing drama of her wanderlust. The script is a little more kind to Ms. Brown, giving her ambition and dimensionality, and even casting her in the male role of Romeo. (No comment on sexism or sex roles in society is given for this decision.)
Ms. Brown, ultimately, is the nobler of the two women, primarily because of her resolve. Regrettably, however, she uses foul language. Her mother rebukes her for using foul language, but only after Jack implores her to do so. Mary Jo remains largely deplorable because of her weak will, her sexual proclivities and lack of discernment. Mary Jo loves her daughter and shows her many skills, but these skills are mainly limited to kissing boys and using feminine products. Mary Jo imparts no genuine lessons on love or matters of faith, because her character is actually quite shallow.
While ANYWHERE BUT HERE didn’t have much more to offer in the way of moral backbone, resolve and behavior, it did have better production values all around. A kind widowed man in TUMBLEWEEDS provides an outside source of moral strength, countering the characters of the two lost women. Gentle, lightweight but generally unremarkable, TUMBLEWEEDS never rises above the white trash mother whom it features.