Reviews: Louder Than Words

Post-Californication Duchovny disappoints in this middling made for tv type drama.

"I'm writing a book called
How Do I Escape This Movie?".
Why is it that inspiring true stories often make for mediocre film treatments?  Why do great actors continue to participate in films like this that underutilize their talents?  And much like this year’s highly overrated and strangely successful Heaven is for Real, how do films tailor made for the Lifetime Network or Hallmark Channel manage to ascertain theatrical distribution?  These were many of the things running through my head as I watched Louder Than Words, the new film with David Duchovny, Hope Davis and Timothy Hutton. 

The film tells the true story of the Fareri family and untimely death of its youngest member, Maria (Olivia Steele-Falconer) after contracting a rare case of rabies.  Grief stricken, the remaining family of two daughters and one son split apart at the seams until Daddy Duchovny has an epiphany to build a children’s hospital in honor of their daughter’s wishes to bring peace and happiness to hospitalized children like herself.  Timothy Hutton is a contractor enlisted to pitch the sale, meanwhile the wife and husband’s strained, distant marriage gradually is reunited as the broken family comes together to help build the hospital.  Never once do we actually see this hospital save for some illustrations which appear during the end credits, and the film jumps back and forth between post-mortem voiceover narration from Maria regarding her life and death interspersed between scenes of the now. 

"Is this the part where I get drunk,
do drugs and drive my annoying
 daughter away while I screw
hot women. Wait. Not my show.
Sorry. Back to boredom."
Watching Maria, I kept thinking about Francis Ford Coppola’s insufferable Life Without Zoe and its precocious little heroine who seemed to be older in maturity and stature than her parents.  What’s meant to be an endearing portrait of a child full of life simply comes across as cloying and aggravates without even trying.  What’s more, Duchovny, Davis and Hutton operate on auto-pilot, given cues to cry or provide stoic, blank stares.  

The film drags and when the inspirational familial reunion and strive to build this hospital come about, it barely registers.  Incidentally, the film was made in 2013 but is only being recently released, presumably after sitting on the shelf for some time.  Reportedly production was halted by the arrival of Hurricane Sandy for about a week.  It’s too bad for the rest of us, Sandy didn’t manage to halt this bland, torpid slog from happening at all.  What could have been a heartfelt portrait of grief transformed into positive growth and selflessness is just another made-for-TV drama, or in other words, a complete waste of time.

-Andrew Kotwicki