A movie directed by Dylan Kidd
I originally saw Safe Passage when it was released in 1995. I remember liking it very much, so I decided to watch it again more than a decade later. I still liked it, and it is still relevant.
Margaret Singer (Susan Sarandon) has a dream she considers a prophetic dream that one of her seven boys is in serious danger. This is the catalyst to bring together the rest of the family. Simon (Nick Stahl) is the youngest and still lives at home. The estranged father Patrick (Sam Shepard) comes over basically to calm her down and make another pitch at maintaining the relationship. Then they discover that a terrorist bombing in the Sinai has potentially killed the second son, Percival (Matt Keeslar) who is stationed there with is Marine unit. From here, the rest of the family converges—the remaining four sons come home to wait.
This is a slice of life story that, while being focused plainly on the immediate because of the desire to discover the fate of Percy, also has a history that puts this statistically impossible family in context. The pacing and the quirky behavior of each of the principles is what keep the film moving in a compelling direction.
Safe Passage can easily be seen as a vehicle for Ms. Sarandon. She is the focus and is rarely out of the frame; however, due to the strength of the cast and the wide range used to tell the story, the supporting cast refuses to let her carry the film by herself. Other than “the twins” (Phillip Author Ross and Steven Robert Ross), everyone does such a natural job of interacting, the result is voyeuristic—they are a real family in a real crisis of waiting. They fill their time with some looking backward, but this direction is tempered with the way they fill their time in the present with things as mundane as a paper route and having lunch ready for a household that used to contain them all and does again, just larger and more independent versions.
Finally, this seems like one of those movies that was fun for all of those involved. They may have really been at each others’ throats when the camera wasn’t running, but that was never the impression when the camera was on.
There are moments of hackneyed family inner-workings, but they never pass into schmaltz.
If you like any of the actors involved, then this should be the next film you rent. If you like films where a difficult family shows how it works despite the multiple layers of clashing personalities, rent this next.
What happens to Percy? Rent it and find out.
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