Sometimes in life tragic events happen beyond our control, and when they do, we seek someone to blame for those events happening to us. Whether it’s because we seek an escape from it, or we choose to ignore the realities of the situation, tragedy can lead us into other small accidents if we’re not careful. In the new film Little Accidents, all this and so much more is explored amidst a small town recovering from a coal mine disaster. Writer and director Sara Colangelo’s touching vision is not only a confident debut, but it’s easily the best film I’ve seen so far at DIFF.
The film centers around three major characters throughout the story. We begin with Amos Jenkins (Boyd Holbrook) who is the last remaining survivor of a coal mining accident. When the narrative begins, Amos still feels out of touch with himself, his injured condition, and the tragedy that has happened. He has just recently awaken from a coma and is still processing what’s become of his life and the friends he had who died. To make matters worse for Amos, the FBI is investigating what happened on the day of the accident. Amos knows the truth but is pressured by his father and his coworkers to remain quiet. Reason being if he tells the truth, he could put a bunch of people out of the job.
In the center of the controversy is Diane Doyle (Elizabeth Banks) whose husband Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas) is being blamed for the deaths in the coal mine. Most of the town is angry with the Doyle family and some have even caused vandalism to their property. One day Bill and Diane’s son goes missing and no one seems to know what has taken place. Between her missing son and the town’s hatred, it’s all she could do to hold herself together from feeling claustrophobic.
Then finally there is Owen played by Jacob Lofland who portrays a kid who is coping with life after his father’s death. Lofland does amazing here as a broken child that is hiding tons of pain deep inside. Something about his eyes that can break anyone’s heart.
Within the world and the town, director Sara Colangelo does a magnificent emotional juggle with these three characters. All of them are connected without a choice and eventually a collision will take place, good or bad. Everything feels authentic, especially the choices characters make in the mix of the traumatic situations. Whether it be Amos seeking his job back with the people who almost killed him, or Diane’s curiosity of Amos himself, the motivations are completely realistic.
It’s pleasantly surprising that Colangelo has such a confident directors hand so early on in her career. Many filmmakers wouldn’t have the confidence to leave some things implied in the film, rather than spell it out for the audience. She does though, and many times throughout Little Accidents the drama speaks louder with silence than most of the actual spoken dialogue itself. Of course none of this would work if it weren’t for the amazing cast in this movie.
Which brings me to the most profoundly talked about performance in this movie. If you don’t know who Boyd Holbrook is, I’m willing to bet you will by next year. In the film, Holbrook has a disfigured hand and has insanely convincing mannerisms of a stroke patient. One of the questions I had planned on asking after the screening was where they found this guy and did he really have this condition. Come to find out, he didn’t at all. Apparently Holbrook did a ton of research leading up to the film and just disappeared into the role. Some were making comparisons to Heath Ledger after the screening. It was incredible to see this much passion for a performance again. Boyd Holbrook is truly gifted and one to keep an eye on in the future.
After my first viewing of Little Accidents, I could not stop thinking about the film. When the credits rolled I was swept by the goosebumps I crave when I see a motion picture. It’s such fantastic work for a director’s first feature and told with such beauty… and I never use the word “beauty.” The film has been picked up by a distributor but they wouldn’t say who as of yet. I’m guessing they’ll plan to release it around Oscar season, and if they do, see this movie. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in 2014 so far, and one of the best I’ve seen at DIFF all weekend.