A strong performance from Jennifer Connelly as “Virginia” helps the movie formerly known as “What’s Wrong with Virginia” (when it filmed in West Michigan in 2009) stay interesting for the nearly two hour running time, but its a performance you really shouldn’t miss!
Warning to parents: “Virginia” is rated R for language and adult content… so you’ve been warned.
(My spoiler-free review)
Sure there’s a lot going on in “Virginia” right from the start and there’s a lot to keep track of, but our main character is schizophrenic… and the movie follows a similar pattern of behavior and filmmaking. There are a lot of elements and characters and parts of the movie are told out of order. Its a formula that may be challenging at first, but when looking back on the big picture of the movie – its a movie that pays off.
Connelly puts on a show as “Virginia” – a troubled and disturbed single mother suffering from mental and physical health issues… but she wants the best for her son Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson – pictured below). Connelly nails all the intricacies of this role, a performance worthy of some award consideration, even if its just from this reviewer. She is socially awkward and has an odd style of decorating and her choices in wardrobe, both very colorful palettes – like the very colorful characters surrounding “Virginia”. There’s the sheriff with whom she’s had a 20-year affair (Ed Harris) – a politician who has a lot of baggage. His wife, Mrs. Tipton (played by Amy Madigan) is the faithful politician’s wife who may be clueless to everything that’s going on in her family. Emma Roberts is Emmett’s love interest and the sheriff’s very conservative straight-laced daughter. Toby Jones plays an oddball boardwalk owner where many of the scenes take place. Carrie Preston is Virginia’s friend/neighbor that is caring but a little neurotic. Yeardley Smith adds another dimension to Virginia’s colorful community of characters as a concerned but weak social worker.
In addition to all this character study, there’s an interesting story of a mother trying to take care of her son but also find a way to financially take care of herself. There are some moments where the story nearly gets lost within itself and there are some story elements that movie only introduces but doesn’t explore… and its a little long – at nearly two hours. But for the directorial debut of Dustin Lance Black and a movie filmed in West Michigan, its entertaining, engaging, full of character development, and we care about this very flawed main character – its a pretty good movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE: (more…)