I hadn't heard of this movie until I stumbled upon it by chance. Color me impressed. It veers into some cliches, but generally it's all handled with authenticity and sincerity. Some great performances helped me care about what happened to the characters. River Phoenix was a talented actor and the film world is worse off for having lost him.
Even the happy moments in this film made me cry, even as I laughed. Warm and difficult and amazing. Christine Lahti was amazing, I would love Judd Hirsch for this and Ordinary People alone, Martha Plimpton is incredible, and as for River Phoenix, he died much too early and when he did we lost one of the best actors of our time. Sidney Lumet is a phenomenal director. This just became one of my favorite films.
Formidable coming of age movie, very well-made. As always, Lumet is able to bring out stunning performances from everyone in the cast - excellent actors are even more excellent when put in this director's hands.
The premise is interesting, but the execution is overlong and melodramatic. The relationship between Pheonix's Danny and Plimpton's Lorna could have used a bit more foreshadowing, and never ended up feeling substantial enough to warrant the on screen response. I also found the narrative somewhat generic given the unusual circumstance it was addressing, although it was a reasonable substitute for the standard coming of age tale.