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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sensuality and a scene of domestic discord

Reviewed by: Halyna Barannik

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Primary Audience:
Older Teen to Adult
1 hr. 40 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Cover Graphic from “Tumbleweeds”
Featuring: Janet McTeer, Jay O. Sanders, Kimberly Brown, Gavin O’Connor, Laurel Holloman, Lois Smith
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Producer: _____
Distributor: _____

It took me awhile to see Tumbleweeds. Nothing in the movie trailers and reviews really grabbed me. Only when there was nothing better to see did I finally go.

What a pleasant surprise! This is not just a road movie about a single parent and child. This is a love story about a mother and daughter told from a refreshing point of view.

The mother, Mary Jo Walker, is played by Tony award winning British actress Janet McTeer, who gives a brilliant performance as a flamboyant Southern broad looking for love in all the wrong places. McTeer’s appearances on talk shows have displayed a quiet personality, so her performance as the brash Mary Jo is quite spectacular. Kimberly Brown plays the daughter, Ava, in an endearing performance.

Mary Jo doesn’t know how to live. When things go wrong, and they always do, she packs up and moves to a new place. That’s what makes this a road movie.

But she’s not alone. Her daughter is the sane, steady and rational counterpart to this odd and quirky duo who try to make ends meet and survive. Ava’s good nature and inherently moral perspective on matters contrasts comically with her mother’s weird and zany lifestyle.

The movie begins as Mary Jo is leaving another wrong man and goes on the road with Ava to find the right man. But her choices are based on fantasies and her dreams don’t seem to come true. When the new boyfriend turns out to be no better than the others, Mary Jo gets ready to move again. But Ava refuses to leave.

The heart of the movie, in Christian and secular terms, lies in that moment when Mary Jo realizes that running away will not bring her and her daughter happiness. It is a visible epiphany and gives the movie a positive moral tone. The spectacular performances by Janet McTeer and Kimberly Brown, whose intimacy on screen is intense and touching, also give this film its fine edge.

Despite the fact that it has admitted adultery and some harsh scenes, for which it deserves the PG-13 rating, this is a movie that does not glorify sin or immorality. Rather, we see Mary Jo’s failings through the innocent eyes of her child, who does not approve of Mary Jo’s choices and decisions.

Discriminating movie buffs who don’t want the usual Hollywood cliches will love this film. Recommended for mature audiences.

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