Published Nov 01, 2004Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Sarah Willis, Some Things That Stay is a coming-of-age story centring on a teenage girl, Tamara Anderson (Katie Boland), whose family moves to rural Ontario from the southern U.S. The year is 1954, a time when everybody was white, everybody went to church and everybody had a family. Tamara's family, however, is atypical. Her British-born father is a painter and her Canadian mother is a free-thinking atheist who rubs her churchgoing neighbours the wrong way. Father (Stuart Wilson) moves the family every year so that he can find new inspirations for his canvases. However, Mother (Katie Boland) contracts tuberculosis, still fearsome in the mid-'50, and is quarantined in a sanatorium. Tamara has a harder time dealing with the disease than her younger brother and sister. Death also looms in the ghost of the boy who died in her new house and whose bed Tamara now sleeps in. Meanwhile, Tamara finds love with her first boyfriend, Rusty (Kevin Zegers), and friendship with his sister Brenda (Megan Park) who lives across the street. But even they cannot alleviate Tamara's adolescent fears and frustrations, which she takes out on her loving father.
It's refreshing to see adolescents portrayed as complex human beings and not reduced to sex-starved cartoons. While Some Things That Stay has its charms and the storyline is engaging, director Harvey doesn't cut deep enough in this drama. The family has problems but is far from dysfunctional. The bohemian Andersons stand out from their Christian neighbours but don't suffer as much alienation as you'd expect. Mother's tuberculosis threatens her family's stability but doesn't feel like a crisis. Another problem is that Katie Boland can't quite carry Tamara's role as the angsty adolescent and is often overpowered by Megan Park playing her friend. In the end, Some Things That Stay feels unresolved. (Alliance Atlantis)