“Your testimony as you can imagine is of the upmost importance to us.”
Little Accidents is Sara Colangelo’s debut feature film and despite some of the issues I had with the pacing and some unexpected turns the story takes it still had some solid performances that kept me engaged with the movie. With a little more polishing Colangelo may become an important filmmaker because she does manage to deliver some well crafted scenes and interesting characters. It is a character study of a small American coal mining town that has recently experienced a fatal accident that claimed the lives of several miners. Amos Jenkins (Boyd Holbrook) is the only survivor and on the one hand he is feeling forced to testify against the executives by the families’ who have lost their loved ones, and on the other, miners from the same company want him to keep quiet so they can continue to work without experiencing any setbacks. He would rather stay quiet than say anything. The blame is mostly geared towards Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas) who is an executive of the mining company. Meanwhile he and his wife, Diane (Elizabeth Banks), are dealing with the disappearance of their son JT (Travis Tope). The only person who knows what happened to JT is a young boy named Owen (Jacob Lofland) who would rather keep the secret to himself than confess what actually happened. Owen’s father was also a victim of a coal mining accident and we see the contrast between his family and the Doyle’s. Once we are introduced to all these characters we begin to see how some of them overlap with each other in a small town where secrets are hard to be kept. Colangelo sets up the story pretty convincingly but once the characters begin to interact with each other there are moments that feel forced and melodramatic. There is just too much going on in the town for a film like this.
What I enjoyed the most about Little Accidents despite all the melodrama and forced interactions it introduces were the performances from the cast. Elizabeth Banks has a much more subtle performance than what we are used to seeing her in and Josh Lucas is also believable as the mining executive who is trying to keep busy at work to keep his mind off of the loss of his son. However the two stand outs in this film are Boyd Holbrook and Jacob Lofland who are internally wrestling with secrets of their own. Lofland was outstanding in MUD although most of the attention was geared towards Tye Sheridan’s performance. He is the one who has gotten much better roles, but that doesn’t mean Lofland should be ignored and in this film he proves he has the acting chops to carry a film.
The greatest failure of Little Accidents is that it tries to cover too much melodrama in a short period of time. Instead of focusing on one of the accidents, it introduces us to another one and shows how some of the characters overlap with each other. I didn’t find the relationship between Banks and Holbrook believable and it all felt rushed. The underlying message of the film seems to be that “truth will set you free,” but in the end it was all too obvious and the audience is left unrewarded for the time they had invested in the film. I found some of the camera movement a bit distracting at times, but that is my only complaint in the technical department. In the end, Little Accidents simply doesn’t deliver despite an interesting premise.