Movie Reviews

Nostalgia – Decent But Adds Nothing To The Conversation

At least it has a great cast.

Synopsis: A mosaic of stories about love and loss, exploring our relationship to the objects, artifacts, and memories that shape our lives.   (IMDB)

Starring: Jon Hamm, John Ortiz, and Ellen Burstyn

Writer: Alex Ross Perry

Director: Mark Pellington

Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)

Running Time: 114mins

Trailer: 

For showtimes and more, check out on Nostalgia on movietimes.com.

The film’s message is an honorable one about love and loss through our relationships with objects and memories and how they all shape our lives but the message didn’t come across nearly as well as it could have as it was both heavy handed at times and didn’t tell anything new. It’s constant attempts at being deep were eye roll inducing and also worked against the story and also slowed it down at times.

The story is told through a series of interconnected vignettes, each involving characters experiencing some sort of loss. Because of the format, the emotional impact of the respective vignettes is limited by the fact that it was also difficult to care about these characters over the limited time we got to spend with them.

The first vignette follows an insurance investigator named Daniel (Ortiz) who loved to listen to stories about the people he encounters while working his job. Over his time, we see him in the middle of an ailing man named Ronnie (Bruce Dern) and his estranged pregnant daughter Bethany (Amber Tamblyn) as he helped to assess the value of Ronnie’s possessions. We never got to know anything about them and their conflict didn’t really matter anyway as the story never went back to them. Next, Daniel encounters an older woman whose house burned down named Helen (Burstyn).

Helen was by far the most interesting character in the film, so much so that the second vignette was about her. It was all about her learning to move on from the loss of her home and the memories of her late husband which were represented by his prized baseball. At least her situation was somewhat relatable as she had pretty much lost her independence and became a burden to her son Henry (Nick Offerman). However, she eventually decides to see the ball to a sports collector named Will (Hamm) despite Henry wanting the ball. Again, the story never went back to them.

Of course the baton is passed once again and now the final and longest vignette was about him. He and his sister Donna (Catherine Keener) were tasked to help clear their childhood home for their downsizing parents. Will’s sudden onrush of childhood memories soon got interrupted when tragedy struck their family. A small plot hole (or larger depending on your age) slightly lessens its emotional impact.

For what the film is, the acting is decent all around. The film does boast a considerable cast giving somewhat equal performances in their respective screen times but a few performances stand out. Burstyn as Helen and Keener as Donna stand out for different reasons. Burstyn had the most to do as Helen and was great and compelling to watch in an emotionally nuanced performance. Keener as Donna arguably overacted in portraying her emotions.

Overall, this was a decent and somewhat relatable drama with an interesting concept that could have been executed better than it was here. Its format along with its heavy handed and overly sentimental execution didn’t offer anything new to add to the conversation. Fans of any of the cast may find something to enjoy here because there isn’t much else.

Score: 6/10

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