Film Reviews


By • Oct 8th, 2004 •

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Warner Independent Pictures / A Kirkham-Lewitt production / 85 minutes

QUOTE: A subdued Walken brings magic to the sweet tale of a dysfunctional family.

AROUND THE BEND stars Michael Caine, Christopher Walken, and KFC. Henry Lair (Caine) loves his fried chicken. Even though it is hardly apparent he can afford live-in help who doesn’t seem inclined to keep house, Henry has a Danish housekeeper named Katrina (Glenne Headly). His newly separated grandson Jason (Josh Lucas) appears to have custody of his adorable 6 year-old son Zach (Jonah Bobo). As we know from the trailer, Henry’s criminal son and Jason’s father, Turner (Walken), suddenly appears. And none too late.

Henry’s well-planned Last Will and Testament, written just before his demise at his favorite booth at the local KFC, instructs the Lair men to make a road trip. They must follow post-it directions Henry has placed inside several KFC bags.

Turner has a rather colorful history: He freely admits to being not only a criminal but a life-long heroin addict. He is not apologetic about the choices he has made. And, if one looks at Jason and the love and support Henry gave him, what is Jason so bitter about? Maybe Turner did the right thing. Sometimes grandfathers make better fathers.

Henry’s “will” has the three generations travel in a broken-down van through New Mexico (I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for four years and never stumbled upon the “picturesque” desert vistas of AROUND THE BEND. Traveling around the state, I came across very different people than the Lairs.)

Walken is such a skilled actor that he refuses to sentimentalize his character: Turner did what he did, paid along the way, and that is that. Lucas also gives Jason enough dimensions – outside dialogue – that reveal amazement, disgust, and sheer bewilderment over his father’s sudden appearance. Why Turner left is one of the plot points that haunts the drama. Caine, Walken, and Lucas do a fine job with this dysfunctional family drama, but it is young Bobo who is so naturalistic and captivating that everyone I spoke to right after the movie singled him out.

Henry Lair: Michael Caine
Zack Lair: Jonah Bobo
Jason Lair: Josh Lucas
Katrina: Glenne Headly
Turner Lair: Christopher Walken
John: David Eigenberg

Director-screenwriter: Jordan Roberts
Producers: Elliot Lewitt, Julie Kirkham
Executive producer: Ronald G Smith
Director of photography: Michael Grady
Production designer: Sara Knowles: Music: David Baerwald
Costume designer: Alix Friedberg
Editor: Francoise Bonnot

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