There's a troubling fragility to this adaptation of AM Homes' short-story collection "The Safety of Objects". Beautiful and deeply moving it's the kind of film you'd rather leave wrapped up in cotton wool than tell other people about, for fear they might somehow break it.
Set in suburban America, it takes place after a car crash leaves Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson) in a coma. His mother Esther (Glenn Close, terrific) spends her time looking after him at home, neglecting her husband (Robert Klein) and teenage daughter (Jessica Campbell).
Meanwhile, several other dysfunctional families in the community are also falling apart. City commuter Jim (Dermot Mulroney) has become invisible to his family while his young son Jake (Alex House) has fallen in love with a Barbie doll. Further down the street, Helen (Mary Kay Place) is trying to seduce the pool man (Timothy Olyphant) and Annette (Patricia Clarkson) is a divorcée struggling to cope.
The centrepiece of the film is a touch-until-you-win contest at the local mall, where the contestants have to keep their hands on a brand new SUV until they're the last one standing. Esther enters for her daughter's sake, but the tranquillity of the contest sets her thinking about her life, with troubling results.
At first, it's difficult to tell precisely what it is that makes "The Safety of Objects" so different from a host of other indie dramas. Yet it's clear from the veil of tender melancholy hanging over events that this is no façile crowd pleaser like "American Beauty".
Slowly, each of the film's small moments begins to build, gathering pace and momentum as they develop into a tender symphony of tragic loss. Taking Homes' short story collection as her starting point, director and screenwriter Rose Troche has created a truly moving film, upsetting and uplifting in equal measure.
"The Safety of Objects" is released in the UK on 15th August 2003.