'Louder Than Words' feels cold

'Louder Than Words,' starring David Duchovny and Hope Davis, comes by its emotion superficially

A true story, good intentions and meandering filmmaking make for bland uplift in the family drama "Louder Than Words." David Duchovny and Hope Davis star as John and Brenda Fareri, upscale Connecticut parents to a set of adolescent triplets and a precociously smart and engaging 13-year-old girl, Maria (Olivia Steele-Falconer), whose upbeat narration masks the fact that she dies tragically from rabies 30 minutes in.

Overwhelming grief turns an already reticent, barely communicative dad — an easy task for the rarely expressive Duchovny — into a near no-show for his family, until he decides their county needs a state-of-the-art children's hospital, come hell or high water. (Maria's final wish, found in her journal, was for the health and well-being of all children.)

Needless to say, this real-life tale mixture of grimness, reconciliation and communal fight requires a deft hand to avoid Hallmark sentimentality, and unfortunately director Anthony Fabian prefers to dole out emotion in short bursts of superficial montage rather than fully dramatic scene work in which characters deepen through extended interaction. That leaves "Louder Than Words" feeling diffuse, choppy and cold rather than illuminative about how broken families heal after terrible loss.

"Louder Than Words."

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, some thematic material and smoking.

At Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills.

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