Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A road movie involving a woman, who has been through four husbands, and her infinitely sensible 12-year-old daughter rings warning bells in The Tennessee Williams' Home For Abused Child Brides.

What can they do but fight, fool around, love each other and say, "I wish you'd look on the bright side of things"?

Mary Jo (Janet McTeer) is a Southern basket case, not that she's certifiable, simply addicted to the next venue, the future romance. There's always a silver lining, a hunky guy at the truck stop, a new life waiting. Her daughter's name is Ava (Kimberly J Brown) and she's tired of driving through sunsets that bleed across the windscreen, because her mother's response to violent confrontation follows the tracks of her tears: "Git in tha car!" She wants to go to California, where the beaches are beautiful, like in the glossy brochures. She wants to settle.

You have been here before. You know these people. One is fun loving (flirtatious), the other strong willed (determined).

The mother/daughter combo works a treat. McTeer and Brown spark off each other. The plot, however, has a predictability that includes an old favourite, Mr Dull'n'Nice (Jay O Sanders), who has sadness in his life and kindness in his heart. If anyone will tame this wacky woman, it could be him. He is so safe.

The nomadic spirit is forever restless. Mary Jo looks askance. She's moving into a new relationship, which, unsurprisingly, mirrors the old. There comes a moment when you want to shake her and say, "Wake up, girl." Ava feels the same.

This is British actress McTeer's first American movie. It won't be her last. If Julia Roberts hadn't been battling with Erin Brockovich's bad language, she might have risen to the challenge of Mary Jo. As it is, McTeer grabs the opportunity and everyone should be grateful.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Road movie about a mum who drags her daughter across the States leaving a trail of failed romance behind.
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Director: Gavin O'Connor

Writer: Gavin O'Connor, Angela Shelton

Starring: Janet McTeer, Kimberly J Brown, Jay O Sanders, Gavin O'Connor, Laurel Holloman

Year: 1999

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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