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Review: Gentle drama 'Change in the Air' goes a little cuckoo with its bird references

Review: Gentle drama 'Change in the Air' goes a little cuckoo with its bird references
Rachel Brosnahan in the movie "Change in the Air." (Screen Media)

The gentle drama “Change in the Air” is buoyed by its sweet spirit and a strong cast, but it ultimately tries too hard to win our affections. Those who aren’t turned off by its lack of subtlety will likely find it to be an amiable effort from director Dianne Dreyer and screenwriter Audra Gorman.

The quiet of a tight-knit small town is interrupted by the arrival of Wren Miller (Rachel Brosnahan). But she isn’t the one making the noise; instead, its longtime residents such as Jo Ann (Mary Beth Hurt), whose curiosity over their new neighbor’s mysteries — like the hundreds of letters she receives each day — creates trouble and attract the notice of local cop Moody Burkhart (Aidan Quinn).

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“Change in the Air” is an intentionally small film, likely made before Brosnahan broke out with the Emmy-winning “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The otherwise veteran cast (including Olympia Dukakis and M. Emmet Walsh) boosts a magical realist screenplay that otherwise follows the meme “Put a bird on it” far too literally.

From Wren’s name to Macy Gray’s character singing “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” ornithological references overwhelm the film. “Change in the Air” thinks so well of people that it should trust them to pick up on its themes with a little less reinforcement.

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‘Change in the Air’

Rating: PG, for some thematic elements and brief language

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 19, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD

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