Aurora Borealis

on September 15, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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“Aurora Borealis” is one of those turgid family dramas that hides its self-importance beneath a homey blue-collar facade. The characters affect the colloquial dialects and mannerisms of the classes (Minnesota here), while beneath their workaday exteriors lie dark secrets and insightful remedies for the tragedies of life that send us off our course or leave us short of our dreams.

Duncan (Joshua Jackson) is one of these souls. Brooding and charming, still he can't keep a job, while his brother is a rich, philandering family man who hates his family. Their grandfather, Ronald (Donald Sutherland), has Alzheimer's and is dying, and Duncan is the only one among the clan who wants to talk about the mysterious death of their father, Ronald's son, a decade ago. When Ronald and wife (played by Louise Fletcher of “Requiem for a Dream”) take up residence in an old folks home, Duncan wrangles a job as the handyman, giving him time with the old man and some insight into his own father's death as he watch his grandfather go not so quietly into the dark, grasping for the light. And there's a girl, Kate (Juliette Lewis), a sassy home health nurse with whom Duncan falls into a relationship.

“Aurora Borealis” is certainly pithy, but pithy does not necessarily make for interesting. Starring Joshua Jackson, Donald Sutherland, Louise Fletcher, Juliette Lewis and Steven Pasquale. Directed by James Burke. Written by Brent Boyd. Produced by Scott Disharoon and Rick Bieber. A Regent release. Drama. Rated R for language. Running time: 110 min.

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