A Cool, Dry Place John N. Smith

A Cool, Dry Place John N. Smith
The titular "cool, dry place" refers to a third act anecdote and metaphor for the relationship between the separated Russell (Vince Vaughn) and Kate Durell (Monica Potter), as well as her maternal disappointment and shortcomings. Most of the film focuses on Russell's attempts to move on as a single father, working as a lawyer and basketball coach in small-town middle America, reluctantly romancing the feisty and surprisingly intelligent Beth (Joey Lauren Adams), who happens to be the older sister of problem child basketball player Noah (Devon Sawa). But as he comes to terms with starting over on his own and coping with the life he'd blindly accepted in the midst of domestic expectations, the limitations and restrictions of parenthood generate an internal struggle brought out by the passion he experiences with Beth. What's interesting about the film is that it isn't ignorant of the plight of Kate, who is mostly absent for the story. Yes, the "cool, dry place" refers to the security and natural parenting instinct Russell provides his son, noting that parenthood is often about the absence of self, but it also represents the internal pain of realizing that you don't have the instinct to protect, or the ability to accept, the life you've fallen into, like Kate. It's this consideration for everyone involved and their entire range of emotional responses, whether noble or selfish, which makes this slow moving character drama more enticing than its seemingly familiar story suggests. It also features career high performances from all three lead actors in roles that let them demonstrate fully realized characters. It's just odd that it's being re-released on DVD without any special features to justify its bargain bin inevitability. (Anchor Bay)