Rails & Ties Alison Eastwood

Rails & Ties Alison Eastwood
Going for a scream and a temper tantrum when a meaningful glance would have been more effective, Rails & Ties suffers from over-the-top emotional outbursts, bizarre character reactions and illogical conflicts. The performances are invariably strong but have no sense of cohesion, as the actors all seem to be working through their own complex characterisations without regard or concern for those around them. A depressed single mother (Bonnie Root) decides to shuffle off this mortal coil by driving herself and her son Davey (Miles Heizer) onto train tracks. Noticing this, train engineer Tom Stark (Kevin Bacon) has to decide between putting on the emergency brake and possibly derailing the train or smashing into the car as per protocol. Deciding to crash into the car, he later learns that young Davey has been orphaned as a result. Meanwhile, his wife Megan (Marcia Gay Harden) learns that her cancer has returned and metastasised in her bones. With only weeks to live, Megan decides to return home and give up the fight. Her struggle, mixed with her feelings of regret in not having children, lead her to selfishly and illegally invite the orphaned boy into her home so that she and Tom can learn a little something about themselves, which leaves Davey forced to suffer losing a second mother figure within months. The most incongruous elements of Rails are the motivations of the secondary characters whose actions are entirely fallacious in their efforts to further the emotional trajectories of the leads. An abusive foster parent and Tom’s best friend, who makes derogatory remarks about his cancer-ridden wife, are just a couple of examples. This is only exacerbated by the inconsistent and occasionally "WTF?” direction by Alison Eastwood. Camera movements within shots are often distracting and add nothing to the emotional impact of individual scenes, in addition to looking amateurish. Eastwood’s decision to let her talented actors breathe and explore their characters certainly helps in getting some great performances but at the expense of narrative cohesion and consistent didactic. On the upside, there are some interesting soundtrack decisions involving Mazzy Star and Nada Surf but little of interest aside from this. The DVD includes additional scenes of Kevin Bacon’s character as a child and a minor storyline involving a young female runaway with a heart of gold. (Warner)