Fly Away

Fly Away PictureWritten and directed by Emmy Award winner Janet Grillo, this 2011 low-budget independent film, shot in a mere 14 days is full of emotional punch and great characters brought to life by a bright and talented cast. 

The film opens with a close-up of hands winding a circular music box and placing two wooden ladybug figures on top. As the music plays, the two figures move in circles around the top and this works as a perfect metaphor for the relationship that drives this movie. Jeanne (Beth Broderick) is a single mother raising an autistic daughter Mandy (Ashley Rickards) who is 15 years old and having great difficulty coping with her special school. The girl has anxiety attacks in the middle of the night and is prone to violence in her classes. Jeanne is trying to make a living by doing business consulting from her home. Mandy’s father, Peter (J. R. Bourne), tries to take some of the pressure off of Jeanne by taking Mandy for an afternoon, but he is unable to cope with the daughter he so obviously loves.

As these problems develop, Jeanne meets a very nice guy, Tom (Greg Germann), a neighbor who walks his dog in the same park where Jeanne and Mandy walk their dog. He makes an effort to get close to Jeanne, who accuses him of getting close to her from pity. When Jeanne and her partner lose a very important client, the situation with Mandy becomes increasingly difficult and Jeanne must make a difficult decision to either try to continue their life or to enroll Mandy in a residential therapeutic clinic.

Broderick and Rickards both give amazing performances, so real and down-to-earth that they are completely believable in the roles. All of the supporting actors are also terrific. The script is 100% organic and on point throughout the film, developing the themes to a finely honed story. The ending is perfect for both mother and daughter.

I admit that I am an easy target for this kind of script, easily sucked in, and emotionally involved. However, I truly believe that this movie really hits absolutely every note spot-on, so well written, developed, and edited that you cannot fail to be impressed by it on almost any level. There should have been multiple Academy Award nominations and once again the Academy missed the boat.

At a mere 80 minutes, it is perfect in terms of time and development. I highly recommend this movie!

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