Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Stockholm, Pennsylvania: From Sundance to Lifetime
McKay represents science fiction fandom at its absolute darkest. After kidnapping
four-year-old Leann Dargon from a playdate, McKay renames her Leia, after
you-know-who and trains her to worship the universe. At least, he spares her
the Xenu creation myth. Brainwashed into believing the apocalypse has
transpired, Dargon spends seventeen years in McKay’s basement before the police
finally find her. McKay was the only world Dargon ever knew. One hesitates to use
the word “family,” but that was how she saw him, making her homecoming
decidedly awkward in Nikole Beckwith’s Stockholm, Pennsylvania, which premieres on Lifetime this Saturday after screening at
the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (yes, true story).
does not remember her parents and she is woefully under-socialized, so Marcy
Dargon tries (unsuccessfully) to temper high hopes for their reunion. More
circumspect by nature, her husband Glen just wants to settle into a routine and
proceed to let time heal wounds. Since she makes little attempt to hide her affection
for McKay, relations between mother and daughter start to fray as soon as they
are re-established. It is all painfully believably for a spell, but as soon as
the Dargons separate, the film descends into dark but ludicrously overwrought territory.
raised some eyebrows when a dramatic competition selection at this year’s
Sundance bypassed theaters, heading directly for Lifetime. However, it makes
sense when you take into account the fact it isn’t very good. For most of the
film, Cynthia Nixon’s overacting is locked in a death struggle with Saoirse
Ronan’s bloodless understatement. Frankly, the latter looks like she is just
trying to get through a mistake, which is understandable. In contrast, Nixon
approaches the sort of self-indulgent twitchy bombast Meryl Streep specializes
in. That is not a compliment.
David Warhofsky is completely credible as the put-upon, conflict-avoiding Glen
Dargon, while Rosalind Chao’s Dr. Andrews serves as the film’s voice of reason,
in more ways than one. It is a really smart supporting turn—and somehow all the
best written dialogue comes in her scenes.
Beckwith stacks the deck against Marcy Dargon,
well beyond all reason and fairness. (I can’t speak for a twenty-two year old
woman with Stockholm Syndrome, but trust-building exercises like the old “fall
backwards and let me catch you” game are a surefire way to alienate me.) The
flashbacks featuring McKay are also invariably clumsy and the big twist ending
is a complete misfire that really makes no sense when you start to think about
it. If Stockholm, PA had focused more
on Leia/Leann’s sparring sessions with Dr. Andrews, her court-appointed head-shrinker,
it might have gotten further, but as it stands, the film gets to be a real chore at
about the hour mark. Not recommended (but a weird spectacle to behold, nevertheless),
Stockholm, Pennsylvania airs this
Saturday (5/9) on Lifetime.
Labels: Lifetime, Saoirse Ronan