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    Like Dandelion Dust (2009): Movie Review

    What if the one thing that makes us truly happy is taken away from us? What if the one thing that can change us for the better is denied on us? What if the one thing that will complete us as a person also fills another person’s emptiness? In Like Dandelion Dust, we will be taken into the lives of two families and the single truth that will shake the balance between husbands and wives, parents and children, and hope and surrender. 

    The movie begins with a scene from seven years ago. Two police officer came to the Porter house and drunk Rip (Barry Pepper) answers to the knock. Upon their investigation, they found his wife Wendy (Mira Sorvino) injured and Rip was arrested and jailed for domestic assault and alcoholism. Presently, Rip is released from prison and Wendy takes him home. Rip is now sober and has taken anger management courses. Soon, he talks to Wendy about starting a family. But Wendy has a secret – she has given birth to their child after he was sent to prison. Having limited resources, she has given up the baby for adoption to a couple living in Florida. 

    In Florida, the Campbells live an idyllic life with their adopted boy Joey (Maxwell Perry Cotton). But the peace is shattered by one phone call – there is a loophole in the adoption papers as the father’s signature is forged and Rip is now laying claim to his son. Worse, the judge upholds the Porters’ claim and the Campbells will have to give Joey to them. Molly Campbell (Kate Levering) is devastated with the news while Jack (ColeHauser) desperately seeks all legal avenues, even contacting a congressman friend to intervene but to no avail. 

    Trial visits are then scheduled. For the Porters, how will Joey’s visits change them? Will Wendy be a better mother now? Will this redeem Rip from all his mistakes and helplessness? For the Campbells, how will Joey’s absence affect their otherwise happy home? Will they risk everything to win back the child that had been taken away from them? Or will the fights become more personal?

    Like Dandelion Dust is one of the best films of 2009 for two reasons – a moving storyline with graceful characterization, and superb performances from the actors. Based on the novel of the same name by Karen Kingbury, the film deals with a subject matter uncommon to most mainstream movies – child custody battle. The conflict is complicated and the scenario is a lose-lose situation. Whatever actions the principal figures do is driven by emotional pressure and desperation, so it is quite hard to root for particular people. For Wendy Porter, her past forced her to abandon her child. For Rip Porter, he sees his child as a chance to start his life anew. Though he returns to drinking alcohol and being violent in the later part of the film, his actions are borne out of his frustration from being unable to provide more to his family and be a better father to his child. For Molly Campbell, she will lie to people in order to get her child back. And for Jack Campbell, he will resort to anything, including bribery and “kidnapping”, to keep her family intact. So in the end, there are no villains, only people doing regrettable acts in the name of love.

    Though both Mira Servino and Kate Levering deliver an outstanding performance as distraught mothers, it is the two fathers who create the perfect tension and drama to make the film gripping and highly melodramatic. Barry Pepper steps up as drunkard husband who turns sober and loving. Both his characters are believable and his commitment to the role is palpable with the way he projects compassion, hope and violence. Cole Hauser is commendable too, infusing certain vulnerability and aggressiveness in his character as a deprived father. 

    All in all, though most elements are quite familiar and predictable, Like Dandelion Dust succeeds in giving relevant and compelling story. Though it projects simplicity, both the subject and the characters have layers of complexities than will definitely affect anyone even long after watching the movie. Hence, five stars out of five for the film.


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