A moving drama about the under-explored tragedy of hunger among those out of work, or under-
employed in the modern U.S. - especially how it effects the children of those families.
However, unlike Bell's great earlier films "American Heart", which explored an ex-con trying
to re-integrate into society, or his documentary `Streetwise' which unblinkingly studied runaway
teens in Seattle, this film feels a bit soft, and just a a touch preachy.
Of course, this was a TV movie, not a feature, and that could explain the slight lack of edge. It's
still bravely dark compared to most American films, but there's never a question of the film's
agenda here. Of course that's partly due to the difference in subject, but it effects everything;
the lighting, the music, even the supporting cast (producer Jeff Bridges appears as a rich doctor,
and while he's one of the best North American actors of our time, there's something distracting about
seeing him in a cameo in a film starring his brother, where the two men are treated as unrelated
and never even meet on screen).
Beau Bridges does his usual very solid job as the father, likable and human if headstrong and
too prideful to get the help his family needs. And generally the acting is all quite good. I just
felt a little manipulated - to a good cause and a good end mind you - something I never felt in
Bell's previous work. In the end, though, the importance of the story, and the strength of the
performances win out, and this is still very much a film worth seeing.