Film Reviews with Sister Rose

Finding You

Based on There You’ll Find Me, the 2011 novel by Jenny B. Jones, this coming-of-age story is touching, entertaining, and inspiring. It tells of 18-year-old Finley (Rose Reid), a violinist who fails an audition for a highly respected New York music conservatory. Filled with disappointment, she accepts an offer to study a semester abroad in Ireland. Still coping with the unexpected death of her brother, Will, Finley seeks a new beginning. She brings Will’s journal with her, hoping to locate a drawing he once made for her while in Ireland.

On the plane to Dublin, the flight attendant seats Finley next to a haughty and handsome young man, Beckett (Jedidiah Goodacre). Finley is not impressed, even when she finds out he is an actor in a wildly popular fantasy film franchise.

They end up staying at the same guest house. As time goes by, she helps him with the film while he guides her around Ireland. Beckett’s father and manager, Montgomery (Tom Everett Scott), is pushy and disruptive. Meanwhile, Finley is also introduced to the local Irish music scene and is thrilled when she is invited to play with the local band at the pub. But even more than this, as part of her Irish studies course, she gets to know a senior citizen, Cathleen (Vanessa Redgrave). She and Cathleen become unlikely friends; Finley helps her heal old wounds.

Finding You is a story of grief, healing, reconciliation, and hope across generations. I was very moved at the relationship between Finley and Cathleen, which shows how caring knows no boundaries. The focus is largely on the young people who struggle to become independent and choose meaningful paths in life. Romance is likely, and it will require sacrifice.

Writer/director Brian Baugh pulls a strong performance from Oscar-winner Redgrave, while Reid’s extraordinary violin performances almost overshadow an otherwise competent film.

Not yet rated, PG, Family tensions.

The Life Ahead

The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se’)

Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren) is a retired prostitute who lives near the docks in Naples. She spends her days taking care of the children of other sex workers, but she has a secret few people know. Currently she is caring for a little girl as well as the son of her friend Lola (Abril Zamora), who is transgender.

A doctor friend of Rosa’s asks her to take in 14-year-old Senegal refugee Mohammed (Ibrahima Gueye), called “Momo” by everyone, so they can avoid involving child services. Momo, whose father killed his mother, is a challenge for Rosa. Seeing that the boy needs a positive male influence, she asks Hamil (Babak Karimi), her Muslim friend who owns a shop, to let Momo work there three days a week to keep him out of trouble. As the days go by, Momo settles in. He notices the row of numbers tattooed on Rosa’s arm, and one day follows her to the basement. Rosa, who finds comfort there, sometimes falls into a trance, remembering days long ago of fear and suffering.

The Life Ahead is the second time Romain Gary’s 1975 book The Life Before Us has been adapted for the screen. This time, Loren’s son, director Edoardo Ponti, has created a role for his mother that showcases her great talent and inner beauty. The film allows her to be hard-edged, worn, and generous—a Jewish mother of sorts to children along the periphery of society. Gueye is a promising new talent. There is goodness aplenty in this release, which is available on Netflix.

Not yet rated, PG-13, Mature themes, drugs.

The House That Rob Built

The House That Rob Built

Anyone who follows women’s college basketball knows about the legendary Robin Selvig, who coached the Lady Griz team from the University of Montana (UM). This new documentary from Megan Harrington, a former Lady Griz, is an engaging and moving portrait of Selvig, who transformed women’s college athletics, basketball in particular.

Title VIII of federal law prohibits racial discrimination in athletic programs in schools that receive federal funds, but not sexual discrimination. It took Title IX in 1972 to fund scholarships and athletic programs for women. In 1978, at the age of 25, UM alum Robin Selvig became the coach for women’s basketball for 38 seasons, until his retirement in 2016. Under Selvig’s leadership, the Lady Griz became a powerhouse of athletics and opportunity for students who played on the team. Out of 1,151 games between 1978 and 2016, Selvig led the team to 865 wins. But as one of the former team members says in the film, it’s not about winning basketball games. It’s about the person you become.

Selvig was an intense coach, as this beautifully rendered film shows, but he knew the backgrounds of his players and the challenges they faced. He was able to demand the best without breaking them. The House That Rob Built belongs in the canon of great films about basketball in this country.

Not yet rated, No objectionable material.

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