Friday, April 28, 2017

Now on Netflix: Little Boxes (2017)

Little Boxes (2017) - Directed by Rob Meyer; Written by Annie J. Howell; Starring Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garafolo, Christine Taylor.

By Kenny Howell

An interracial family moves from Brooklyn to rural Washington state in this well-acted, but a little unfocused indie drama.

The always great Melanie Lynskey (Happy Christmas) plays Gina, an art professor who takes a job in the apple state, moving her family all the way across the country to advance her career. Her husband Mack (Nelsan Ellis) is a writer, so he can do his job anywhere. They also have an 11-year-old son named Clark (Armani Jackson).

Things get off to a rocky start, as the family has trouble settling into their new home. Their belongings are still on the road, and the moving company is not in any hurry to get it to them. Also, Mack and Clark are the only African Americans in the small town, which instantly makes them a novelty for some of the townsfolk, which is obviously hard to deal with. That is especially true for Clark who has never experienced something like that growing up in Brooklyn.

Things just get progressively worse, not within the town so much, as within the own family. The change is extremely hard on them in more ways than just the race aspect, though that definitely plays a part. Clark has new friends, two young girls, one of which might be a little crazy. And Mack can't really work on a new piece he has been writing. Gina deals with the guilt of uprooting her family, as they both struggle to settle into their new home.

Director Rob Meyer for the most part keeps things in control, not letting one aspect over power the others. The story is more about the family dynamic being upset when put into another environment. The focus does scatter from time to time which makes Little Boxes occasionally meander, but the performances, especially the always reliable Melanie Lynskey, and wonderful relative newcomer in Armani Jackson keep things in check.

Little Boxes is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **1/2

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