Reel Time with Sister Rose

Don’t Make Me Go

Wally Parks (Mia Isaac) is a 15-year-old girl who lives with her single dad, Max (John Cho), in California. Wally’s mom, Nicole (Jen Van Epps), left Max when Wally was a baby and married Dale (Jemaine Clement), Max’s best friend. Now Wally is stretching her wings by pushing her dad’s buttons about college and boys, but she’s a good kid at heart. He doesn’t tell Wally that he has a girlfriend, Annie (Kaya Scodelario), but she suspects something.

Max, who once dreamed of a musical career, begins to get headaches. He soon learns that he has a brain tumor and is faced with two options: He could have a risky surgery or choose no medical care and die within a year. He keeps this information from Wally and, instead, tells her they are driving to his college reunion in New Orleans. His plan is to find out where Nicole lives so that she and Wally can meet and get to know each other. Wally refuses to take the trip until her dad teaches her to drive on the way.

Adventures ensue. When they finally track down Nicole, things do not turn out as planned. Suddenly, Wally becomes the adult in a beautiful scene that expresses a daughter’s love and wisdom in a way that will rock your heart.

Writer Vera Herbert and director Hannah Marks bring a sensitive understanding to this father-daughter relationship. Wally loves her dad even as he embarrasses her by his taste in music and silly dad jokes. There is humor and joy in this gently told story that transcends what could have been so ordinary. Cho is entirely credible as the single dad, and Isaac’s performance is touching and memorable.

Don’t Make Me Go, available on Amazon Prime, is an enjoyable film, though it has one rather glaring flaw that could have been implicit rather than explicit. When Max needs to talk to Wally, he drives them to a beach that turns out to be for nudists. It doesn’t ruin the story, but they should have left out the full-frontal male optics. That distraction aside, Don’t Make Me Go is a wonderful portrait of a struggling father and daughter who, together, learn the importance of life and family.

Not yet rated, R, Mature themes, nudity.

Persuasion movie actors


This latest version of Jane Austen’s 1817 novel opens with Anne Elliot (Dakota Johnson) pining over her lost love, sailor Frederick Wentworth (Cosmo Jarvis). With no fortune or prospects, Anne is persuaded to give him up by Lady Russell (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who had promised Anne’s dying mother to look out for her and her sisters. Anne is determined never to let anyone tell her whom to love or marry, especially when Wentworth returns as a successful sea captain.

Now that Anne’s feckless father, Sir Walter Elliot (Richard E. Grant), has wasted the family’s fortune, it is determined that their home must be rented out. When Sir Walter and her unmarried sister, Elizabeth (Yolanda Kettle), decamp to Bath, where their financial state can be masked, Anne is sent to be with her sister Mary (Mia McKenna-Bruce), a dissatisfied wife and mother who is ill.

Persuasion, which is available on Netflix, follows Austen’s novel in all the ways that matter. As a fan of the 1995 version with Ciarán Hinds and Amanda Root, I was not prepared to like this new telling, but I found it amusing, and Johnson’s performance is engaging.

Not yet rated, PG, Selfishness and social class snobbery.

Where the crawdads sing movie

Where the Crawdads Sing

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Delia Owens, this crime drama, available in theaters, is at once beautiful, compelling, and disturbing.

Kya Clark (Daisy Edgar-Jones) grows up alone in the 1950s in the North Carolina coastal low country. Her father’s violence drives away her mother and siblings until he finally disappears, leaving this resourceful young woman to fend for herself. Some people are kind to her, such as Jumpin’ (Sterling Macer Jr.) and his wife, who manage a small store and gas up boats, and lawyer Tom Milton (David Strathairn). But the kids bully her, and adults are suspicious.

Kya and Tate Walter (Taylor John Smith) meet as children, and they fall for each other as teens. But he leaves for college, and she becomes involved with a young man who takes advantage of her. The performances are fine, the cinematography is lush, and the film follows the book in almost every way. But the unexpected ending leaves lots to talk about.

Not yet rated, R, Crass humor, references to porn addiction, language.

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