Who's In It: Kristen Stewart, James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo
The Basics: Gandolfini is a depressed businessman and Melissa Leo is his even more depressed and agoraphobic wife. Since the car accident death of their 16-year-old daughter, their decades-long marriage has turned into polite, sad silence. Then Gandolfini meets Stewart, a 16-year-old runaway stripper/prostitute and, without even asking if she was cool with that, he imposes his fatherly assistance on her. She never requests to be adopted but she more or less goes along with it. Strangely, every time you think (hope) it's going to turn into a nutty R-rated sitcom about quirky, non-trad families, it ignores your needs and just gets more serious.
What's The Deal: To appreciate what's worth appreciating about this movie, you need to ignore some of the more glaring questions it raises. For example, do grown men simply barge into the slummy apartments of teen hookers and start fixing the plumbing and buying furniture? Do people just cure themselves of anxiety disorders with love? Do prostitutes have wizard-like restorative powers that bring about psychological redemption as long as you don't have sex with them? Pretty much just turn off your nagging "Would this happen in real life?" switch and you won't hate yourself for having spent time with these otherwise kindhearted folks.
To Its Credit: It's not horrible. It's just directed and written with a heavy hand and a sensibility that could use a lot more restraint. And all three leads--Gandolfini, Leo and Stewart--do everything in their power to make it non-shrieky and more like something that doesn't make you want to bust out laughing. Whatever good feelings you have about it afterward will come from their sober, somber performances. Also, in spite of how it plays by the indie drama rulebook, it does mess with your ideas of how you think it's all going end. Sort of. So there's that.
If It Were A Math Equation: Rileys = The Blind Side + Angel, (the '80s cult exploitation movie about a high school hooker) + Stewart saying "cooter" and the f-word every three minutes x indie sad-face.
Not For: Tween Twilight fans. It's too unsettling to watch her try to do it with Gandolfini. And even stranger to think that Tony Soprano would turn down a stripper for any reason.