Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kids and the environment: Jenny Deller's rich, warm & probing FUTURE WEATHER

Finally: someone who fully under-stands the threat of global warming and is prepared -- no, more than that -- to do something about it. Trouble is, she's only 13. Jenny Deller's wonderful new film, FUTURE WEATHER, success-fully combines the world's most pres-sing current problem, global warming, with one of its oldest: the parent/child relation-ship. This new film-maker (this is her first "full-lengther") gives us one of the best and most realistic looks at budding adolescence as it comes to a smart, feeling girl with problems on her plate no kid should handle alone.

Of course, Lauduree (that's her name) is not quite alone. But try to tell her that, as she negotiates the depths and shoals of life at this troubling age. In the role of her heroine, the filmmaker (pictured at left) has cast a remarkable young actress actress, Perla Haney-Jardine, who, it turns out, I have actually seen several times previously, but considering the pace at which young kids grow, I simply did not recognize her as a teenager, here.

Ms Haney-Jardine has the face, along with ability, to show us a lot going on inside via her gaze, her focus, and her quiet but strong voice. She exudes strength and intelligence, if not much patience for her lessers -- which includes most everyone around her, even those who are firmly on her side.

These include her grandmother (a wonderful job by the reliable Amy Madigan, above, right), her school teacher (a fine Lili Taylor, below) and schoolmate (a charming turn by newcomer Anubhav Jain, shown at bottom).

Not included is Lauduree's mom, for reasons you'll soon note, and were it not for the eminently believable performance from Marin Ireland (below, right), this character might seem too much. Late in the movie we (and Lauduree) learn some pretty awful information from grandma that helps explains mom's lack of caring/character.

Lauduree can be pretty self-righteous, in the way that growing children often are, and the young actress lets us see this side of her character with no punches pulled. Although this is a movie featuring predominantly women, it is no way anti-men.  Grandma's suitor, in fact (a nice job from William Sadler, below) is a help to both Lauduree and Gram.

The movie takes in only a short time period, but in that time we learn a lot abut this little group and come to care deeply for its heroine. With more people like her in our world, the movie suggests, that world might have a fighting chance.

Future Weather, after a brace of successful festival showings, is playing now in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and will open this Friday, March 1, at Brooklyn's reRun Theater and the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. From there it will hit various other cities and theaters. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates.

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