The Answer Man

A charming little story about a world-famous spiritual author (Jeff Daniels), hiding from the world; a single mom raising her son and a new chiropractic store (Lauren Graham); and a young man just out of rehab (Lou Taylor Pucci), trying to keep himself and his struggling bookstore afloat.

Here’s the trailer:

I’ll be honest in that I sought out this film specifically for Lauren Graham, since I’m such a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and I was eager to see her in another role and, hopefully, support a film endeavor with which she was involved.  After seeing The Answer Man, I am not blown away by her or the movie, but it was enjoyable and worth the watch.  I enjoyed seeing her be a mom with a younger son, something never really seen on the mother-daughter show.  I also thought that while she and Daniels weren’t a couple you would expect, they did work.  Not in an overly-romantic way, but in a way that felt believable.

The film starts off relatively slowly, but I liked that it never went where I expected it to.  I also was very surprised that the film really is about three people, as opposed to just the two romantic leads.  The movie is also chalk-full of subtle nuances that I found to be brilliant.  For instance, Elizabeth (Graham) tells Arlen (Daniels) that she and her son, Alex, have been on their own for three years, after Alex’s father (who never gets a name) took Alex to the park one day and said he’d be back in two weeks.  It’s later revealed that Alex is having difficulty in math at school, and, a few scenes later, asks Arlen, “how long is two weeks?”  I loved the simplicity of it.  They didn’t beat you over the head with the idea that the son misses his father, that he’s struggling with said father’s absence, but it’s there, just present enough to notice.  And other things like that exist all through the film.  It’s beautiful.

I also highly admired the film’s treatment of religion and spirituality.  Considering that the entire story is based around Arlen’s book, which is a Q&A with God himself (or so we’re led to believe), and the world’s response to it, the film actually stays away from being a discussion or parable or message about Divine intervention or who/what God is.  It addresses life as it is, and how we cope with things from day to day.  When the subject of the book itself – and how it came to be written – is brought into direct light towards the end, it is left open for interpretation.  To do that, and believably, is extremely difficult, I think, and it managed to pull it off.  I applaud the screenplay for that alone.

I want to watch the film over again; its only fault was that the whole thing seemed sort of disjointed, but I did watch it in two sittings, so I hope that seeing it twice, along with watching it in one go will change my perception of it for the better.

I definitely recommend it.


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