The Safety of Objects

Some people find comfort and warmth in the suburban family, others do not. The four families in The Safety of Objects, writer/director Rose Troche's (Bedrooms and Hallways, Go Fish) adaptation of the book of short stories by A.M. Homes see their calm lifestyle as confining. They feel trapped in their petty lives and the monotony created by the same routine day in and day out. The Safety of Objects is about people trying to break out of their rut, to rediscover some importance or meaning in their life. Although there are many characters, the central focus is on Esther Gold (Glenn Close, Pinocchio, 102 Dalmatians). Gold spends the majority of time caring for her son Paul (Joshua Jackson, Ocean's Eleven, Gossip).

Paul used to sing in a band until an accident left him in a coma. Paul's sister Julie (Jessica Campbell, Election) resents how Esther dotes on Josh yet ignores her. To placate her daughter, Esther agrees to enter a local radio contest in order to try to win a new car for Julie. One of their neighbors, Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney, About Schmidt, Lovely & Amazing) is facing a crisis of relevance after being passed over for a promotion at his law firm. He quits and spends time at home until deciding to do all he can to support Esther in her contest. He feels that by doing this, he can regain some feeling of worth.

Troche splits the film between the past and the present. Her flashbacks show how Paul got into his accident, and help to explain some of the various plots that are happening simultaneously. He is dating Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson, All The Real Girls, Far From Heaven), another neighbor. Annette is struggling financially trying to raise two children after a divorce. Her daughter Sam (Kristen Stewart, Panic Room) is going through an especially rebellious stage at the moment. The fourth family, the Christianson's, are just not that interesting.

Another common theme running through the various families is that the parents seem too busy or wrapped up in their own lives to pay as much attention as they should to their children. As the stories progress, this will cause all sorts of problems, especially when coupled with the fact that these parents are ignoring their children partially because they are in trouble themselves. None of these themes are particularly new, and Troche doesn't really look at it in a new way or shed any new light on matters. It feels like the main purpose of The Safety of Objects is to show how clever Homes is by having a bunch of stories weave within each other and connect together at the end. It does take some work to make things feel as seamless as they do, but it also feels like the film is biding its time before dropping whatever bombshell it has. Close, Mulroney, and Clarkson each have their moment when their characters come to an epiphany about their lives, and watching them act is probably the most enjoyable portion of an otherwise so-so movie that becomes overly complex at times.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 1 minute, Rated R for sexual content and language.

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