The true story of author Tobias Wolff.
The movie starts with an optimistic scene. Mother and son Jack driving through beautiful Utah scenery, singing along with the radio; running from Mom's most recent bad choice in men toward a fortune in uranium to be had for the finding. Boyfriend turns stalker, they run to Seattle where Mom meets abusive alcoholic bigot Dwight. Jack is in some trouble at school and she sends him to live with Dwight in hopes that he'll be reformed and follows herself to marry him. A few years of abuse follow, during which Dwight keeps the money Jack earns on his paper route and nearly kills him more than once. Finally, Jack leaves for prep school and Mom finds the gumption to leave too.
I liked it in the beginning, was ambivalent in the middle, and liked it again by the end. Both Jack and his mother make serial bad choices, which is what lands them in the bad situation that takes up much of the movie. But by the end they each find a way to stand up for themselves. That is a lesson that we all need. Don't be controlled by your situation. Walk away from bad relationships. Forge a way for yourself. Think positive, aim high, and always hope for the best. The picture of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse that is painted by this story is ugly, but it ends with the message of walking away from the abuser. I wish it ended with him being punished. But injustice is real life, and there are more people than anyone wants to count walking around free, using fear to control the behavior of others.
Well worth viewing.
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