Imaginary Heroes
2005
The seemingly stable Travis family crumbles when one of the children kills himself in this wrenching drama about long-buried secrets and lies, and ties that bind too tightly. Soon after the tragedy, patriarch Ben (Jeff Daniels) distances himself from everyone else, intent on coping with his pain alone; his wife, Sandy (Sigrouney Weaver), turns to pot for release and escape; and their restless son, Tim (Emile Hirsch), longs to be elsewhere.

Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

This is precisely the sort of movie that gives artsy debuts by young indie directors a reputation for being unbearably pretentious. Like Sofia Coppola but untempered by her modesty, it piles on the quirky characters and moody navel-gazing, seemingly determined to defeat any chance it has of being genuinely moving because it's too busy being adorable. Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels and Emile Hirsch are game for the material, but they could be a whole lot better with real characters to play instead of these independent-film clich├ęs. If writer-director Dan Harris has much of a frame of reference beyond the superhero films he's more famous for writing, he doesn't demonstrate it here, attempting to tug a heartstring while quoting Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. The "shocking" final-act revelations only confirm that A) the film doesn't trust the audience to have figured out the obvious a half-hour earlier, and B) it thinks it's a whole lot deeper than it actually is.

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