American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
There's an unlikelihood so large in "Future Weather" that it nearly derails the film. That was what I admired the most about it. It involves the unusual amount of scientific knowledge possessed by Lauduree, its 13-year-old heroine, and Neel, the pudgy, shy classmate she defends against bullies.
These two are the students of Ms. Markovi (Lili Taylor) in a high school somewhere in Downstate Illinois. They get a lot of attention; Ms. Markovi starts a Science Club and carries on even when Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine) decides to drop out. Lauduree doesn't quit because of the obvious reason: Her worthless mom Tanya (Marin Ireland) has abandoned her in a trailer home with the rent unpaid and left for California "to pursue my dream of doing makeup for the stars."
No, even though Tanya left her only $50 (for food and things), Lauduree has dropped out because the club has started a project on reducing the CO2 emission in the atmosphere, and it duplicates work she has already started on her own. She'd lose her "database." Lauduree is fearsomely well-informed about global warming, and trades big words with Neel and their teacher as if they were colleagues in a think tank.
That's the flaw. There is little evidence to explain how Lauduree or Neel came into that information. Neel, a golden-skinned kid who peers out from behind his hair like a sheep dog, has somehow gotten on the same self-improvement track as his classmate. It's possible to know a lot of "scientific facts" at 13, and there are news reports almost daily of 12-year-olds whose Science Fair projects solve nuclear fusion. But nothing in this girl's life accounts for it. Lauduree, whose mother ran away from her after giving her that unfortunate name, is backstopped only by her grandmother, Greta (Amy Madigan), a chain-smoking, hard drinking potty mouth who is planning to move to Florida with her boyfriend Ed (William Sadler). These are not people who study polar bear videos on YouTube.