Review: Little Accidents

Elizabeth Banks in a scene from Little Accidents

Little Accidents is about huge, life-altering accidents. There are two such accidents in this grim tale about the interconnected life of a small coal-mining town.

Spoilers ahead.

The first accident is an explosion in the mine that kills 10 miners. One man, Amos Jenkins (Boyd Holbrook) survives. Amos is under pressure from all sides. The mine owners want it kept quiet about the dangerous levels of coal dust in the mine and are trying to make a case that the explosion was caused by a lightning strike. His fellow miners want him to play dumb about the explosion so that the mine and their jobs are not in jeopardy. The survivors of the dead miners want retribution from the mining company.

A mining company middle manager Bill Doyle (Josh Lucas) and his wife Diane (Elizabeth Banks) have an additional disaster to deal with because their 15 year-old son JT (Travis Tope) disappears at about the same time.

Jacob Lofland as Owen in Little Accidents

Young Owen Briggs (Jacob Lofland) knows what happened to JT, but he isn’t talking. His father was one of the miners who was killed in the explosion. His mother (Chloë Sevigny) depends on him to help out with his mentally handicapped younger brother (Beau Wright).

Bill and Diane Doyle deal with their son’s disappearance in stereotypical fashion. He buries himself in work.

She has an affair. With Amos. The one survivor.

Elizabeth Banks and Boyd Holbrook in a scene from Little Accidents

In the way of convoluted relationships in small towns, Owen finds a way to work at the Doyle home doing odd jobs around the house. This allows him to get close to Diane. Owen also seeks out Amos, who takes him into the mines and talks to him about his father’s death.

The film unfolds like a literary novel. Deep, dark, intricately plotted, beautifully told, ultimately impressive.

The film unfolds like a literary novel. Deep, dark, intricately plotted, beautifully told, ultimately impressive. This is a gritty tale, with little relief from the fear and grief that haunt the main characters.  When the moral morass weighing down both Owen and Amos is resolved, the story ends; yet the pain these characters feel will continue.

Little Accidents was written and directed by Sara Colangelo. This is her first turn at the helm of full-length film. She achieved an uncompromising and moody portrait of the human condition, enhanced by beautiful performances from the actors.

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