OCCUPY, TEXAS (2016)


Dallas International Film Festival 2016

occupy texas Greetings again from the darkness. Can you go home again? The answer is usually complicated and often a factor of one’s own choices. What’s clear is that those choices leave a wide range of emotions in the wake. Writer Gene Gallerano and director Jeff Barry share the story of Beau Baker, a young man who 7 years ago, walked away from his comfortable suburban lifestyle and a bright future as a lawyer.

When first we meet Beau, he is sleeping on the streets of New York … awakened by a gentle foot nudge from his Uncle Nolan (Reed Birney, VP on “House of Cards”). Beau reluctantly agrees to return home when he is informed that his parents have recently died in a car crash. See, after Beau left home, he joined the Occupy Wall Street movement, and just never returned home after the movement fizzled.

Once back in Texas, Beau is informed that he is the executor of his parent’s estate, as well as the legal guardian for his two teenage sisters … much to the dismay of his Type-A Aunt Uma (Peri Gilpin). 17 year old Claire (Lorelei Linklater, Boyhood) and 13 year old Arden (newcomer Catherine Elvir) have mixed reactions to the reappearance of a brother they barely ever knew. Claire is angry and bitter, while Arden takes to Beau’s carefree ways and avoidance of responsibility.

The film was shot in Dallas, and offers peeks at the historic Texas Theatre, the Margaret Hunt Bridge, and St. John’s school. There is also a glimpse of the cultural clash between New York and Dallas, and it’s provided through Beau’s wardrobe and speech. Whether he can fit in with old acquaintances (including his old girlfriend Nikki Moore), and kick his carefree lifestyle to become a true role model for his sisters is the core of the film.

Writer Gene Gallerano also stars as Beau Baker, and does a nice job walking the line between selfish slacker and grown-up. The road from homeless street person to legal guardian doesn’t come with a handbook, and Beau makes most every mistake possible. On the bright side, we can tell pretty early on where the character and story is headed and that it’s going to be a feel good story of redemption – and overcoming the challenges that family brings. There are a couple of other interesting characters courtesy of the rarely-seen-these-days Janine Turner (as a bored housewife drawn to Beau), and Paul Benjamin (as a wise and generous neighbor). The inconsistent sound mix doesn’t affect our connection to Beau and especially Arden (in a terrific first on screen performance from young Miss Elvir). We really want what’s left of this family to come together.

watch the trailer:

 

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