The Safety of Objects
|The Safety of Objects|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Rose Troche|
|Produced by||Dorothy Berwin|
|Written by||Rose Troche
Mary Kay Place
|Music by||Barb Morrison
|Editing by||Geraldine Peroni|
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Release dates||April 24, 2001|
|Running time||121 minutes|
The Safety of Objects is a 2001 independent film based upon a series of short stories written by A. M. Homes about four suburban families who find that their lives become intertwined. The film was directed by Rose Troche, and has many characters. It is often considered an "intellectual film" in the sense that it touches upon many deep issues of the human experience in life. There are about 15 major characters in the film. Perhaps most notable is the character Esther Gold, played by Glenn Close. Esther Gold is the mother of several children, including a son who is in a coma from a car accident. The other characters are also related to the accident either directly or indirectly. As the film's story continues, the audience finds that all of the characters are connected in ways that they never knew.
In a suburban neighborhood, Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson) lies in his bedroom in a vegetative state - a coma caused by a traumatic car accident, being nursed by his mother, Esther (Glenn Close). Esther dutifully tends to Paul day and night, and in doing so has distanced herself from her husband Howard (Robert Klein) and teenage daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell). In an attempt to elicit her mother's attention, Julie enters Esther in a local radio contest in hopes of winning the brand new car that is up for grabs.
Meanwhile, after ages of putting his job first, Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) feels his family, especially his efficient wife Susan (Moira Kelly), no longer needs him. He tries to reconnect with his son Jake (Alex House), but pubescent Jake is preoccupied with romantic fantasies that revolve around his younger sister's twelve-inch plastic doll. After Jim is skipped over for a promotion, he stops going to work, claiming that a bomb threat was called into his office. Feeling unappreciated by his family, he convinces Esther and Julie to let him help them win the car.
The Trains' neighbor, Helen Christianson (Mary Kay Place), feeling older and less desirable, tries new products to keep her feeling young but succeeds only in alienating her husband, who loves her as she is.
Helen's good friend, Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson), in the midst of a messy divorce, struggles to financially provide for her two daughters. Sam (Kristen Stewart), the older tomboyish daughter, is desperate to go off to camp that summer. Sam's younger sister suffers from mental disabilities and requires special schooling, schooling that Annette's ex-husband refuses to pay for. Annette is also mourning the loss of Paul, with whom she was having a relationship. Randy (Timothy Olyphant), the neighborhood's landscaper, is also coping (poorly) with his own younger brother's death.
Annette's estranged husband comes over so that he can see the children. He states that he would like to take their eldest, Sam, on holiday. Annette refuses because Sam isn't interested in spending time with her father and her ex-husband does not want to care for the younger daughter. Sam overhears the ensuing argument and as a result runs away from her father when he tries to talk to her at the park. After stopping behind a nearby building, she bumps into Randy who convinces her that her mom instructed him to pick her up.
Randy takes Sam to a remote cabin in the woods and keeps her there, not allowing her to call home while calling her 'Johnny'. After what appears to be three days, Randy starts driving back to the suburb in an attempt to recreate the night that all of the characters' lives intersected. However, when the beer he asks Sam to hand him doesn't explode, he appears to realize that the person in the back seat is Sam, not his brother, who was named Johnny.
Esther eventually gets to the final two in the radio contest, only to pull out at the last moment after nearly three days of physical and emotional taxation. Julie becomes angry and runs off. Jim, angry at what he feels is an inadequate second place prize, becomes violent and wrecks the area. He gets chased off by Bobby, Helen's son, who works as the mall security guard. Esther, who finally becomes aware of how much she has neglected her daughter, goes home and tearfully suffocates her son. Jim returns home, and Randy lets Sam go home. Helen almost cheats on her husband, but after making a last minute phone call eventually returns home having done nothing.
It is revealed in a flashback what caused the car crash which put Paul in a coma, and killed Johnny. Randy, Paul, and Randy's younger brother Johnny were traveling in a car after a gig that Paul's band played. Johnny gave Randy and Paul beers which were secretly shaken, so that they exploded on Paul, who was driving. Another car, carrying Julie and Bobby, came from the opposite direction, speeding to rush Julie home after an impromptu tryst so that Julie wouldn't get in trouble for violating her curfew. Both drivers became distracted, both cars had to swerve to avoid one another, and Paul's car crashed and flipped over. The guilt that has consumed Randy and Julie both, throughout the film, is shown to have originated from them believing that they were to blame for the crash.
The final scenes of the movie show the characters coming to heightened understandings of impacts of events in their lives and the choices they've made, and lastly, the interconnectedness of the families profiled.
- Glenn Close as Esther Gold
- Dermot Mulroney as Jim Train
- Jessica Campbell as Julie Gold
- Patricia Clarkson as Annette Jennings
- Joshua Jackson as Paul Gold
- Moira Kelly as Susan Train
- Robert Klein as Howard Gold
- Timothy Olyphant as Randy
- Mary Kay Place as Helen Christianson
- Kristen Stewart as Sam Jennings
- Alex House as Jake Train
- Charlotte Arnold as Sally Christianson
- Aaron Ashmore as Bobby Christianson
- C. David Johnson as Wayne Christianson