Photo: Crossroads of America

Movie Review

DIY Indie | Family Drama

Home / Drama / Crossroads-of-americaPhoto: Crossroads of America


Crossroads of America

Directed by Gabrielle Muller

Written by Laura Sampson Hemingway

Starring Kaye Tuckerman, Laura Sampson Hemingway, Natalia Ortonowska, Mitchell Wray

Crossroads of America explores the world of its title, the nickname for Indiana. More specifically, it depicts a raw, often uncomfortable, look at the lives of those residents we now more sensitively call the white working class but may have used a more pejorative term for back in the day. It’s a land of deaths of despair, existential depression, and pink lawn flamingos. Is this a nod to overlooked aspects of everyday life in the contemporary American Midwest or the anti-art kitsch of John Waters?

It’s difficult to say, but that’s not necessarily a flaw. There are so many “ugly American” signifiers such as Wonder Bread, dashboard ornaments and plastic bathroom angels it seems intentionally over-the-top at times. The story itself, from the creative team of director Gabrielle Muller and writer/actor Laura Sampson Hemingway, is midwestern family melodrama after the age of daytime talk shows and reality TV. Barely recovering alcoholic Sandy (Hemingway) tries to work out her issues with a self-absorbed psychic mother (Kaye Tuckerman), the sister she crippled (Natalia Ortonowska) in a drunk driving incident (who otherwise has her shit together) and a kid brother (Mitchell Wray) with boundary issues. Is this tragedy, camp or high art?

In the end, we may not have the answer, but it’s still refreshing to see a contemporary film that strives to be all of the above. There are cosmic cutaways to the characters in Pietà poses filmed with Caravaggio’s dramatic chiaroscuro. There are also banal observations like “Chocolate is also so much better than kale.” For any roughness around the edges, there’s something real and honest at the core of this film. Beneath the headline issues of addiction and mental health, there are specters of family abuse and undiagnosed body issues. In a daring final stroke for an age in which the concept of storytelling demands a paint-by-numbers approach, the film leaves these unresolved. The family and its flaws resist easy fixes. The characters will continue their lives after the fade to black, seemingly stuck in a rut of mundane crisis.

-Gus Greene
Once arrested for having Relations in Public.

Leave a Reply