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NEW Beautiful Ohio (DVD)
In his feature directorial debut Chad Lowe weaves a compelling family drama about William (Brett Davern), a young teenager lost in the success of his older brother Clive (David Call), a troubled high school math prodigy who has begun to drift apart from his parents (William Hurt, Rita Wilson). When William grows attached to Clives free-spirited girlfriend (Michelle Trachtenberg), he uncovers something that will change the family forever.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Simon Messerman (William Hurt) is an insurance salesman who happens to read voraciously and speaks in quotations of famous writers and thinkers. His wife Judith (Rita Wilson) is equally bright, quotes as often as William, but adds a flavor of correcting people's grammar and living in a world of her beloved composers (Chopin, Schumann, Mozart, etc). They have two sons - Clive (David Call) is a long-haired math genius who despite his gifts spends his time playing loud hard rock music and speaking in a language all his own, and William (Brett Davern) who is devoted to his more intelligent brother but longs for a sense of normalcy in a family that tends to fragment at odd times. Clive's best friend and the only person who understands his special language is Elliot (Hale Appleman): the two of them essentially keep to themselves and smoke pot while they are not entertaining the 'homeless' Sandra (Michelle Trachtenberg). Sandra chooses to live in the basement of the Messerman house to avoid coping with her own abusive parents. The four youngsters are a team of sorts, thought the interrelationship roles each plays is not at first apparent.
The Messermans brag about Clive's constant triumphs at math contests, entertain their neighbors the Cubanos (Matt Servitto and Julianna Marguiles), and fill their lives with attending math meets, basically ignoring the personalities of their two boys. William longs for acceptance and understanding by his parents: Clive lives in his own world. William is driven to discover the meaning of Clive's strange language and eventually finds clues that lead to the secrets he'd rather not know. A situation occurs that stuns the family, and the story jumps forward to the resolving aftermath of that discovery.
For a bare bones budget film the story is well told and is a compelling one. Ethan Canin reads better on the page than his words convey through the mouths of actors, and at times the result is pretentious dialogue. But the cast is superb and the ending is one that makes the audience stop, think, and want to see the movie again for the clues we missed. Well worth seeing. Grady Harp, November 08
This movie might not be for everyone, but definitely a well done one.
The story mainly focuses on the two brothers (and the girlfriend of the oldest brother). Throughout the movie, we're never really sure if the parents are just being extra supportive of their oldest son or whether he really does have an exceptional talent for math. You see, he spends his days sitting around doing drugs, playing guitar and listening to music.
The girlfriend of the oldest brother secretly lives in the basement. Only the two brothers are aware of this, though neither brother ever brings it to the others attention so yeah, it's basically treated as a really big secret. She's played by the beautiful Michelle Trachtenberg (who sort of resembles the current Wendy's girl we see on commercials but with black hair- not the same girl however). She sort of has the hots for the younger brother.
While one could argue there's not much of a plot, I actually think the movie excels at just being a different type of family drama. Something that stands apart from the norm. It's most certainly a drama with subtle elements of humor (such as the father getting drunk and high and making a jerk out of himself at the dinner table in one segment).
What I DIDN'T like is the final 5 minutes. Without giving it away, there's a major curveball thrown here (no pun intended) and the part that comes after... well let's just say, I didn't care for it at all. A little overdone is one problem with it, but the storyline really goes WAY beyond what it should've near the very end. This is an innocent drama concerning a family with different issues after all. No need to exaggerate the storyline. Perhaps because I never thought the older brother creating his own language was appealing is the reason for my dislike of this scene.
The soundtrack is *incredible*. I'm someone who must have heard over 1,000 albums from the 60's and 70's, but I honestly didn't recognize most of the songs being played throughout the movie which leads me to wonder if the music really is from those two decades or just really good, believable imitations. The one flute/keyboard/guitar jam while the oldest son was in the attic (and the father getting high) really sounded incredible to me. Would love to know the name of it. As is the pop song during a driving scene later on.
Overall, excellent movie but flawed thanks to the less than spectacular ending.