xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
"Imaginary Heroes" gives us yet one more troubled suburban family, with suicide and drugs and a chill at the dinner table. But it gives us something else: A heroine with a buried but real sense of humor, and an ability to look at life from the outside instead of only through her own needs. That this person is the mother in the family, and that the father is cold and distant, goes without saying; fathers in the movies, as a group, supply only a few more heroes than Nazis. But the mother is worth having, and makes the movie work despite its overcrowded plot.
Her name is Sandy Travis, and she is played by Sigourney Weaver as someone whose teenage years were spent in the 1970s, which means that in a sense she will always be younger, or at least more unpredictable, than her children. When she makes it clear in early scenes how much she hates Marge, her neighbor, we feel a certain self-satire under the anger. When she talks to her son, Tim (Emile Hirsch), she's the kind of adult kids need to talk to when they can't communicate with their parents. Unusual to find that in a parent.
The film is narrated by Tim, who tells us about his older brother Matt (Kip Pardue). Matt is the best swimmer anyone has ever seen. He holds all the records and is headed for the Olympics. Then, only a minute or two into the film, he shoots himself in the head. Tim knows something about Matt that few people were allowed to find out: Matt hated swimming. Mostly he hated it because of the way he was driven by his father, Ben (Jeff Daniels), a cold perfectionist who made Matt's life a daily final exam.
That's all prologue. "Imaginary Heroes" starts with the family trying to recover emotionally. Ben insists that a plate be served for Matt at every meal, on the table in front of his empty chair. "That creeps me out," says Penny (Michelle Williams), the older sister, home from college. Sandy says, "I won't be making all this food for every meal. It's a waste." That's what she does, speaking her mind in front of the family, coming across as the one who may not be beloved but at least sees clearly.