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Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson) is in a coma in his bedroom, lovingly nursed by his mother Esther (Glenn Close), who has distanced herself from her husband (Robert Klein) and teenage daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell). Neighbour Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson) is struggling to survive with her two children, whilst in the midst of a messy divorce. Down the street, lawyer Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) who has just been passed over for promotion, realises that his wife Susan (Moira Kelly) and two children function very well without him. Helen Christianson (Mary Kay Place) is bored by her husband and starts to flirt with the neighbourhood gardener, Randy (Timothy Olyphant), who is outgoing on the surface, but harbours dark secrets.

Review by Louise Keller:
A kaleidoscope portraying the interlocking lives of four families, The Safety of Objects takes an intensely personal look at the characters who live with their daily frustrations, guilt, regrets and hang ups. Wonderful performances engage us for much of the time, but the storyline (Rose Troche’s has selected seven stories from A.M. Homes’ short stories and woven them into a dense tapestry of human emotions) does not hold our attention for two hours. Much of time, the action becomes just plain dull and repetitive. 

Troche develops the characters well, and through their everyday lives we discover their secrets, their innermost thoughts and through flashback sequences, learn how and why they behave as they do. A revealing observation of human behaviour unravels, and we slowly begin to feel as though we know these people. 

A superb ensemble cast breathes life into these characters, headed by Glenn Close’s powerful portrayal of Esther, a mother trying to come to terms with the impact her comatose son has brought to the family. “There’s security in the fact that the worst has happened,” says Esther, who is clinging to her son as a lifeline in her dysfunctional family. We understand the professional disappointment for Jim Train, whose lack of a promotion becomes the catalyst for change. Then there are the marital difficulties, the squabbling children, the rebellious teenager, the lonely woman, the ex spouse’s rejection by his children, the young boy’s sexual obsession with his sister’s doll. 

Just like in real life, small triggers prompt big explosions. I like Dermot Mulroney’s Jim Train and Patricia Clarkson’s Annette Jennings is compellingly vulnerable. Timothy Olyphant’s Randy is a hauntingly unsettling character, who like many of the others will stay with you when the film ends. There are potently moving moments and much of the characterisations ring very true. But the film is far too long, and the parts are far more effective than the whole. The climax and ensuing conclusion satisfy, although it seems as though all the ends are tidied up far too neatly. Life is never really like that. The experience does, however, allows us to reflect on the fact that lives easily fall into ruts, and open our eyes to recycling the objects and symbols that form our security blankets.

DVD special features include theatrical trailer, featurette and interviews with key cast members and director Rose Troche.

Published January 8, 2004

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CAST: Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Joshua Jackson, Robert Klein, Patricia Clarkson, Moira Kelly, Mary Kay Place, Timothy Olyphant

DIRECTOR: Rose Troche

SCRIPT: Rose Troche

RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9 widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurette, interviews with Rose Troche and key cast members, theatrical trailer


DVD RELEASE: January 7, 2004

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