THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN. Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, C.J. Adams, Diane Weist. Directed by Peter Hedges. 104 mins. Rated G.
‘Odd’ is an odd word for the title of this film. Yes, Timothy Green is odd, that is, he is not your usual young boy. But, he is sweetness and light rather than odd. This is a nice piece of Americana, magic realism and sentiment with a sad/happy ending.
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton (fitting easily into the American scene) are a couple who have tried every means available for having a child but without success. We see them at the opening of the film being interviewed by officials of an Adoption Agency. In fact, the whole film is their telling their rather (very) unbelievable tale, punctuated by the flashbacks of their life and what they call their ‘miracle’, the arrival of Timothy Green during a mysterious storm in their drought-stricken town of Stanleyville.
Timothy (C.J. Adams) is a delightful young lad, what Americans would call ‘cute’. And he fits into the family life beautifully bringing enormous joy to the couple who are plunged into instant parenthood. He is nice to everyone, even to the boys who bully him at school. The magic does not immediately help him at soccer practice, tripping over himself, but he gets there. And he improvises, as do his parents, when his aunt (Rosemarie de Witt) has one of her musical afternoons to showcase her own children. He charms an elderly uncle and aunt. He even mellows his grandfather who had not been at all affirming to his own son.
There are some social questions in the background, the economy of the town and its museum, but especially the factory which is about to close down. It makes (and we are shown the detail): pencils.
This review has avoided giving away anything much about Timothy’s previous life and his particular gifts. Just a hint: leaves.
Quite a lot of character actors, including Diane Weist and David Morse, build a strong supporting cast.
It is a nice film, about generally nice people. But, for those who use ‘twee’ as a derogative word, it will be far too sweet.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out December 13 2012.