MIGHTY FINE (Debbie Goodstein). 88 minutes. Screens Sunday (June 23), 6 pm, at the Carlton as part of the Female Eye Film Festival. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
This small, obviously very personal film set in the early 70s has its predictable elements. Joe (Chazz Palminteri), a domineering dad with anger issues and bad business instincts, moves his family to New Orleans so he can take advantage of a law soon to be passed in Congress giving financial advantages to manufacturers in southern states.
Teenaged daughter resentful about the relocation (Rainey Qualley, the weak link in the cast)? Check. Socially challenged daughter and aspiring poet (Jodelle Ferland) who doesn't fit in anywhere? Check. Infuriatingly passive mom (Andie MacDowell)? Check.
But MacDowell's Stella (speaking with an unidentifiable accent) has a backstory as a Holocaust survivor, which suggests that writer/director Debbie Goodstein has a deep understanding of how re-victimization happens. And there's strong insight, too, into why victimizers do what they do.
A sequence in which Joe convinces his doctor that Stella is really the problem in the family is a distressingly authentic take on male bonding.
And though the storyline isn't exactly original, the ending has a knockout emotional punch.
This is the kind of film that shows why we still need a Female Eye Festival.