Ever since Canadian actress Molly Parker (Men With Brooms, Max) made the jump to television with Deadwood, she has been persona non grata in films. It's quite a shame, since she's an intelligent actor who often chooses difficult roles. Pure is actually three years old, and also has a pre-Bend It Like Beckham performance from Keira Knightley (The Jacket, King Arthur). The story is somewhat familiar; children forced to grow up faster than they should because of bad or absent parenting. Another recent example is Japan's Nobody Knows. Yet the reason these stories constantly reappear is that they provide a heightened sense of drama, and in this particular case, some very good acting from Parker and Harry Eden (Peter Pan). Parker is Mel, and Eden is her ten-year-old son Paul. They live together with Paul's younger brother Lee (Vinnie Hunter, Intimacy). Mel's husband died shortly, and she is a heroin addict.

Initially, Paul does not know this. He does know that he cannot rely on his mother for much, and that his "uncle" Lenny (David Wenham, Van Helsing, The Return of the King) often comes over to bring medicine. Lenny was a family friend. He's also a dealer, and is supplying Mel with drugs. Because Mel is not effective as a mother, it forces Paul to take care of things. He cares little for Lenny, and his feels intensify once their friend Vicki (Marsha Thomason, My Baby's Daddy, The Haunted Mansion) dies from an overdose. He now realizes that his mother is an addict, and that he is one of the few people that can do anything about it. Director Gillies MacKinnon (The Escapist, Hideous Kinky) and screenwriter Alison Hume contrast this with a lighter story about Paul's infatuation with Louise (Knightley), a waitress.

Paul has a crush on Louise (well who wouldn't), and spending time with her also allows him to be more like a kid. He can have fun, and not worry about caring for his little brother or his mother. He can be normal. But his mother's problem encroaches further, culminating into an emotionally devastating scene where Mel tries self-detox. She locked herself into a room, telling Paul not to let her out under any circumstances. As she goes through withdrawal, she viciously berates him for leaving her inside, screaming obscenities and insults, while Paul listens outside. It's scenes like this that make Parker such a fascinating actor, and Eden does well opposite her. The story falters a bit after this; it feels like Hume lost her own way. Thankfully, Hume and MacKinnon manage to pull everything together and craft a pretty clever ending that comes out of nowhere.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 36 minutes, Not Rated but contains language, drug use, and some teen sexuality, an R.

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