Eye For Film >> Movies >> Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael (1991) Film Review
For those who love Winona Ryder, you can't miss this. She does intensity and crazy-mixed-up like no one since Jimmy Dean, but he was a boy and this is very much a girl's movie.
Despite the small town Ohio setting, there is an originality and oddball strangeness running parallel to straight conventionality and some pretty dire comic characters.
The concept of Roxy Carmichael is weird. She's a local girl who left town to become rich and famous. Now she's coming home and the whole place is having a hot flush, what with a welcome ball and civic ceremonies galore, as if she's royalty.
Dinky (Ryder) is 15, the same age as Roxy's child that she deserted, although no one knows about that, except its father (Jeff Daniels), who married someone else and had two more kids. During a moment of weakness he tells Dinky about the baby, how it was three months premature and he took it to the hospital and left it outside the door.
This is Dinky's story, how she's bullied at school because she wears grungy clothes and doesn't fit in, how her adopted parents treat her like a basket case and how she cares for abandoned animals on a derelict river boat.
Dinky is bright. She's smarter than her tormentors, but makes no effort to prove it. "Who understands anybody?" she asks. "Who wants to?" She's more naive than she appears and doesn't know how to kiss. "I'm beyond men," she announces, not knowing what that means.
The flim flam that surrounds Roxy's return is an orchestral manoeuvre compared to the riff that blows out Dinky's rebellion. She kicks against the pricks, unaware of its futility, and when in doubt, she runs.
This is a movie that asks why - why run? At 15 the world is your enemy. Ryder conveys alienation with an authenticity that puts the rest of the movie to shame. Having the director of Airplane! in charge doesn't help.
Not so much a fable as a rites-of-passage. The sensitivity is entirely Dinky's and it pays off. Daniels should have passed. His role dilutes before your eyes.Reviewed on: 22 Nov 2001