The only reason people are paying attention to Evergreen is because it is the first film to get digital distribution.  This means that the distribution company does not have to worry about expensive reels of film shipped to different parts of the country.  Instead, movie theaters (in this case, AMC only) just fires up its computers and projects it digitally.  It's also a marketing coup for both sides.  AMC can preen about their projectors and have bragging rights, and Evergreen can get more distribution than it otherwise would have.  As it stands, Evergreen is one of those small independent films that screams "first time filmmaker" (Enid Zentelis).  It feels more like an after school special than a film that tries to explore some issues involving teens. 

The story revolves around Henri (Addie Land) and her crumbling relationship with her mother Kate (Cara Seymour, Gangs of New York, Adaptation).  They're poor, and spend a lot of time moving from town to town looking for work.  Kate wants a new beginning, so she moves in with her mother (Lynn Cohen, The Station Agent, Fast Food, Fast Women), and Henri soon can begin school.  Henri resents the fact that she is poor, hates that she will not know anybody at school (again), and that she lives in a dump at the edge of town.  So while her mother befriends Jim (Gary Farmer, Twist, Skins), a dealer at the local Indian casino, Henri sulks.  Until she meets Chat Turly (Noah Fleiss, The Laramie Project, Storytelling). 

Chat is one of those rich boys.  He lives in a huge gated house and has his own big car, and a big interest in Henri.  She is amazed at everything he and his family own, and his parents, Frank (Bruce Davison, Runaway Jury, X2) and Susan (Mary Kay Place, Latter Days, Sweet Home Alabama) are warm and welcoming.  Still, Henri lies to both Kate and the Turlys.  She is ashamed of her station in life, and the more she sees Chat, the more envious she becomes.  She begins to insinuate herself into the Turly household, claiming that her house is not safe for her, and that she's afraid of Jim.  Meanwhile, Kate, who now has a job, and a budding relationship with Jim, cannot understand why Henri is keeping a portion of her life away from her mother. 

What makes the plot so cliché is Zentelis' use of some lame dialogue (especially a monologue by Jim about how he built his car, and a quip by Henri about "Aunt Flow"), and some mediocre acting by Land and Fleiss.  Otherwise, Zentelis has enlisted some pretty good actors to appear in her little film, although it is anybody's guess why.  Henri's character undergoes a huge change, and although one can feel sympathetic for her plight, it's hard to believe that she would stoop so far.  Everything is presented superficially, like Zentelis is hitting the main points on her script outline.  Some attempts at humor only serve to muddle the tone of the film.  Zentelis does have a point to Evergreen, which comes out near the end of the film.  The Turly family looks perfect from the outside, but as Henri spends more time with them, she realizes that looks are not everything.  Frank and Susan have their own issues (Susan's in particular is a little lame) that Henri never saw initially.  So is it better to be poor and happy with the people that love her, or well off with a whole other set of problems?  Duh. 

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.

1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG-13 for ---ual content involving teens, and for language.

Back to Movies