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Review

Performances help heartwarming drama 'So B. It' overcome contrivances

The genuine heart and soul at the core of “So B. It” goes a long way toward making up for this family drama’s many coincidences, contrivances and just-go-with-it plot points. Still, it’s likely less-hardened viewers will find a lump in their throats before this fable-like tale, ably directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, fades out.

Based on the novel by prolific children’s and young-adult author Sarah Weeks (Garry Williams scripted), this uniquely titled picture follows Heidi (Talitha Bateman), a bright, spirited 12-year-old living in Reno with her autistic mother (Jessica Collins) and their kindly, agoraphobic next-door neighbor and caretaker, Bernadette (Alfre Woodard, superb as always).

Heidi’s and “Bernie’s” apartments have been jerry-rigged to connect from within, one of several overly precious conceits here, which also include Heidi’s preternatural good luck and disguise ability to pass as an adult.

But when Heidi finds a clue that may fill in the gnawing blanks about her verbally challenged mother’s earlier life — and perhaps Heidi’s family history — the tween dubiously boards a bus for small-town Liberty, N.Y., in search of the group home where her mother grew up. The truth credibly, if foreseeably, unfolds.

The strong cast, including John Heard, Dash Mihok, Jacinda Barrett and Cloris Leachman, sells the warm, at times cloying material with earnest conviction.

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‘So B. It’

Rating: PG-13, for some thematic elements

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Playing: AMC Universal CityWalk 19

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