Screen » Film Reviews

Turn the River


The lady who played Dr. Jean Grey in the X-Men movies wouldn't have been my first pick to portray a loving-but-estranged mother figure, but hey, after seeing this one, I'll probably be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for any future role.

Kailey Sullivan (Famke Janssen) is a down-on-her-luck pool shark whose ex-husband David (Matt Ross) won't let her see their son, Gulley (Jaymie Dornan). She passes secret letters through a pool hall owner pal (Rip Torn) and steals short chats with the boy in the park, but soon realizes she wants to escape with her son. All she needs is to string together some big money billiards games to raise the money to leave town.

My criticism of this film is that it doesn't go anywhere. The characters, though all surprisingly interesting, only have 90 minutes to develop and remain thoroughly static. Janssen, more noted for action flicks, and Torn, known as a comic actor, take a nice turn in their dark and dramatic roles here. Janssen summons deep maternal presence, aided by the sweet believability of young Dornan.

This film has a bit of the gritty desperation from Paul Newman's similarly genred The Hustler, but it's tempered with a vibe reminiscent of the Lifetime channel.

With a decent mixture of nifty pool shots and sweet mother-son moments, this title has surprisingly more than enough to offer. You just have to remember that it's a simple drama and not the exciting and/or slapstick offerings that have become the recent mainstays of its stars.

This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.