Messy family relationships are made even messier thanks to haphazard storytelling in the low-budget drama Imaginary Heroes. Between scandalous plot twists, writer/director Dan Harris manages to extract only a few home truths. Emile Hirsch stars as the archetypal angst-ridden teenager thrown into deeper turmoil when his older brother commits suicide, but it's Sigourney Weaver, as the grieving mother, who really strikes a chord. Sadly one shining performance and a few sparks of insight aren't enough to penetrate the unrelenting darkness.
A regression to hedonistic youth is the only response Sandy (Sigourney Weaver) can muster when her son is found dead in his room. She even takes to smoking pot, but gets herself arrested after sidling up to a hip-looking shop assistant and asking for "the good stuff". It's one of too few moments that's properly pitched between funny and sad. Most of the time, Harris fails to tease out the humour beneath the tragedy. For instance, Jeff Daniels is woefully underused as the shell-shocked father who demands that Sandy lay dinner on the table for their absent son. The depth of his denial is absurd, but it's barely touched upon.
"THE DIRECTOR OPTS FOR SHOCKING REVELATIONS"
Instead of carefully lifting the veil on each character to shed light on the dysfunction between them, Harris opts for shocking revelations. Unfortunately his sneaky approach throws the whole plot off balance and can be alienating at times. Robert Redford's Ordinary People (1980) handled many of the same themes with much more patience and maturity. Basically Harris overcomplicates what should be a simple story of family ties and winds up in knots.