A courtroom drama gives way to a family crisis.
A bizarre cameo from Sean Penn as a freaked-out prophet is not the only thing that sets this family-based drama apart from the norm. This brave study of the human mind isn't afraid to dispose of the usual Hollywood trappings of heart-warming relationships in order to achieve its aims.
Wright Penn is Hedda, one of a trio of sisters, who has returned to the roost after a long time away. A seemingly confident enigma, she hardly has time to unpack her bags before she is served with a subpoena. As mother and sisters try to soften the blow it transpires that Hedda is being asked by the district attorney (Hurt) to testify against a former boyfriend who obviously left a big impression on her life.
He has been accused of causing the death of his new partner and so starts an unusual court case where the DA's strongest witness appears to be doing more harm than good as she is forced to graphically relive a relationship which was at times loving but most shockingly self-destructive.
The camerawork is pleasingly up-close-and-personal and successfully complements the equally intimate storyline. But because it is one that delves into the murky depths of the illogical human mind the narrative itself sometimes becomes confusing and takes a lot for granted. Wright Penn is wonderful and must have put herself through the emotional grinder to realistically portray her complex character while Hurt plays down his pivotal role so that her character can rightfully take centre stage.
This truthful movie, while never boring, is enlightening rather than entertaining.
The journey to its far-from-concrete conclusion is hard going and can only be recommended to the emotionally stable. Those with delicate dispositions should leave well alone.