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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
CHOOSING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: Embarassed and ashamed to bring her boyfriend to her ramshackle home, or to meet her dysfunctional family, Henrietta (Addie Land) refuses to let Chat (Noah Fleiss), drive her all the way to her house after school.
end caption.

"Evergreen": Rich Boy Meets Poor Girl in Dysfunctional Family Drama

Review by Kam Williams

Unemployed Kate (Cara Seymour) is so down on her luck that she can no longer adequately provide for herself and her 14 year-old daughter, Henrietta (Addie Land). Desperate, the single mother decides to return to the manufacturing town outside Seattle where she grew up, knowing that she can impose on her elderly mother (Lynn Cohen) to keep a roof over their heads.

So they move into their Grandma's dilapidated house whose roof leaks like a sieve whenever it rains. The adjustment is difficult for Henrietta, aka Henri, who must make do with sharing her bed in the tiny four-room home. This, at an awkward age when privacy is important to ado- lescents.

The blossoming teenager takes some solace in the fact that Chat Turly (Noah Fleiss), an upperclassman at her new school, is interested in her. Yet, although her boyfriend has a car, the demure Henri only accepts rides half-way home because she is ashamed of where she lives.

Kate finds work at a cosmetic factory and supplements her meager income by selling cosmetics door-to-door. She finds a love interest of her own in overweight, but affable, Jim (Gary Farmer), a Native American who is a card dealer at a casino.

With Jim hanging around the house Henri is not inclined to bring her boyfriend home to meet her family. Henri takes to hanging out at Chat's house, more for the creature comforts than out of a desire to encourage her beau's amorous advances.

Henri sees that his family, despite all its wealth, has its share of problems too. Chat's mother Susan's (Mary Kay Place) entire social life is on the Internet, and his father, Frank (Bruce Davidson), is a restless soul who escapes from the house at every opportunity.

This intimate inspection of seven different individuals provides the emotional underpinnings for Evergreen, an engaging, superbly acted, character study written and directed by Enid Zentelis. The first-time filmmaker's praiseworthy debut is engrossing throughout, even if the resolution feels rushed and is somewhat un- satisfying.

Originally entitled Avon Calling, the independent film made quite a splash earlier this year when it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

A technical note: the movie was shot on digital tape and was not transferred to 35mm. The distributor apparently plans to show it on the same video projector used in its theaters for commercials that regularly run prior to the full-length features. As a result, Evergreen has a less oblong aspect than 35mm film and the grainy images give it a low-budget "art film" look.

Despite its different method of production, the film is special because the cast is comprised of credible versions of recognizable archetypes. Evergreen is that rare treat which succinctly presents interesting characters while imbuing each with sufficient depth to provide the viewer with a meaningful experience.

Excellent (3 and 1/2 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexuality. Running time: 86 minutes.

end of review.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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