Although affecting and well acted, the family drama "Bad Hurt" is too airless and depressing to fully engage.
Adapted by director Mark Kemble and co-writer Jamieson Stern from Kemble's play "Bad Hurt on Cedar Street," the film betrays its stage roots throughout thanks to contained locations and a "kitchen sink" vibe. The story is set on Staten Island in 1999, but it might as well be the 1950s.
The Kendalls, who live together under one saggy roof, are a painfully broken bunch. They include beleaguered parents Elaine (Karen Allen) and Ed (Michael Harney) and their adult children: the unruly, intellectually disabled DeeDee (Iris Gilad); Kent (Johnny Whitworth), an Iraq war veteran with drug issues and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder; and Todd (Theo Rossi), an aspiring cop too shy to pursue the also-downtrodden Jessie (Ashley Williams), a pretty, single mother new to town.
For the Irish American Kendalls, money is tight, patience is frayed, hopes have long been dashed and, of course, secrets run deep. That the film takes place at Christmastime adds perhaps an unnecessary layer of pathos.
This light-on-plot, slice-of-life portrait ultimately breaks free of its constraints and comes to several satisfying emotional and narrative conclusions. Getting there, however, is rough sledding.
MPAA Rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills. Also on VOD.