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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.33%
Worth A Look66.67%
Average: 8.33%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 6 user ratings

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Safety of Objects, The
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by Chris Parry

"Four neighboring families, seven stories, one secret - one great movie."
4 stars

The Safety of Obejcts, when it was premiered in 2001, was often compared to American Beauty as a treatise on suburban malcontent and the destruction of the American family, and the film suffered no shortage of dismissive reviews as a result. But in the light of hindsight, with American Beauty now only a distant memory and with so many of Safety of Objects' stars now household names, it becomes clear that this was a film very much underserved, underseen and underrated by its audience. Rose Troche, who came to the fore directing Go Fish and Bedrooms and Hallways, manages a deft multi-card trick in managing to keep all of these character, all of these stories, and all of this angst from flowing over into sacharine territory, while sneaking up on the audience to deliver a sledgehammer message - that everything we have and everything we want is really just a means for us to cover our own deficiencies and sorrow; cowering among the safety of objects, if you will. Geez, this is starting to sound like a literary review; let's just say the flick is pretty damn good, okay?

What makes this film all the more impressive an outing (at least impressive enough for the director to move on to helming Six Feet Under for HBO) is that it was adapted from a serious of short stories by A.M. Homes. To adapt a single story to any level of competency is generally impressive enough, but to adapt a mutlitude and turn them into one ensemble piece with a united meaning, and to do it effectively, is nothing short of brilliant. But the best of cinematic intentions are often turned to crap when another film comes along and sweeps the field at Oscar time - a film with similar themes and a big audience. Out come the cries of 'imitator', allowing people who should 'look deeper' to dismiss a great piece of work without putting too much thought into it.

The Safety of Objects, viewed on its own merits, is a fine film, performed completely well, directed with style and grace, written with a deft touch and released like a redheaded stepchild on his 18th birthday. "Here's ten screens, don't come back."

That this low budget indie with a cast including Glen Close, Dermot Mulroney, Patricia Clarkson, Joshua Jackson (in the prime of his Dawson's Creek fame), Jessica Campbell (just off her Election success), and Tim Olyphant (just after breaking out with Go) could be so long ignored is incredible, but that it was, being dumped to the back shelves by MGM until they just couldn't hold on to it anymore and threw it on a handful of screens where it could at least prepare for a minor video payday. The Safety of Objects was made in 2000, shown once in 2001, then killed for two years where it did a few festivals, gathered dust, waited for the American Beuaty buzz to die, and eventually, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist on the Hollywood landscape. If you saw it in theaters in 2003, you were one of the lucky few, but I'm standing here right now telling you with a straight face - go rent this movie.

The situation is complex - four neighboring families exist side by side, without a whole lot of mixing, each member entrenched in their own tragic tale of woe. Jim (Mulroney) is a lawyer just passed over for promotion, Susan (Moira Kelly) is his long suffering wife unaware that he just quit and baffled as to why he is spending his day at the mall trying to help Ester (Close) win a 'hands on a hardbody' contest to win a truck. Ester has a dying child at home (Joshua Jackson), the result of a car accident a few years prior that has sent her daughter (Campbell) into a consumerist tailspin. But what is the dying son's connection to their neighbor (Clarkson) who is struggling to keep a hold of her bizarro children in a divorce case, even as her son engages in a love affair with a Barbie Doll?

It goes on, but seriously, to describe all the detail is to miss the bigegr picture - that in these people, somewhere, in someone, lies you. With such a vast array of character types and backgrounds, just about any thinking audience member that observes this street in any clear-minded way will see themselves, and that's Rose Troche's objective. As they each descend further into the worlds they have created for themselves, they each lose sight of what is really important, until everything comes to a screeching collision.

Loved it. Loved it as parts, loved it as a whole. You simply don't see many films that have their shit together as well as this one does, and though it takes a while to catch the ride, this is a ride well worth catching. You go rent now.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/17/04 04:41:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/05/08 pHylum Barbie caught my attention but Glenn Close won my heart! 4 stars
8/21/06 thomas good criticism of us society's shallow values 4 stars
3/12/06 Mary Lou Moving, thoughtful and extremely well constructed. Superb direction and editing. Great. 5 stars
6/23/03 Smiley Not really unconventional, not mainstream. It does have its moments. 3 stars
3/21/03 vickiepowell a bad attempt to mirror American Beauty 2 stars
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  07-Mar-2003 (R)
  DVD: 14-Oct-2003


  05-Jun-2003 (G)

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