Director: Roberto Faenza
Writers: Roberto Faenza and Dahlia Heyman
Stars: Toby Regbo, Marcia Gay Harden, Peter Gallagher, Deborah Ann Woll, Gilbert Owour, Lucy Liu and Ellen Burstyn
James Sveck (Toby Regbo) is in the in between part of his life: in between being a youth and an adult, a boy and a man, and in between High School and University. He is asking questions about his life his loving family cannot answer. His mother, Marjorie (Marcia Gay Harden), owns a contemporary art gallery and has just returned home from her honeymoon to her third husband after only two days. His father, Paul (Peter Gallagher), is successful, dating a younger woman, and plans to have plastic surgery. His sister, Gillian (Deborah Ann Woll), is in a relationship with an older married professor and plans to write her memoir at her world-weary age of twenty-three. The only person James seems to have a connection with in his family is his grandmother, Nanette (Ellen Burstyn)–as well as his dog.
His family is worried about him after the incident in Washington, D.C., and his thoughts about not attending College–he would much rather use the tuition money to buy a farmhouse, read all day and do crafts. Needless to say this does not go over well. Marjorie insists he sees a life coach/therapists (Lucy Liu). The story follows James as he learns about himself, his family, and that he really is not screwed-up.
The main fault of the story is that James is not screwed-up. He is not a person trying to follow a dream and his parents are preventing him, nor are his parents abusive or uncaring monsters. The story lacks drama. If not for the charm of Toby Regbo you would find James annoying and a whiney bore.
But luckily for the film it does have Regbo, as well as a great supporting cast. Regbo is a delight to watch. His fish-out-of-water reactions to the farmhouse he looks at to purchase and his experience during the fateful Washington trip are fun and awkward. Marcia Gay Harden is just the right amount of kooky to play his New-Agey mother that is capable of making tough decisions. Peter Gallagher plays James’ father slightly over-the-top and it works. Ellen Burstyn and Deborah Ann Woll are solid in their supporting roles. Lucy Liu reminded me why I liked her so much on Ally McBeal.
Going on a quick tangent regarding set decoration, I believe the prop master went to a Borders clearance sale because I don’t think I have ever seen so many books in one film not involving a library in my entire life. When you add up the books at the Life Coach’s house, Nanette’s house, and James’ bedroom you can easily fill your local bookstore. Also, there is a scene where James arrives at Nanette’s house on a bike wearing a white skate board helmet that his dog in the basket is also wearing, but doggy size. James has a framed picture of that outfit in his bedroom that I found hysterical. It was in the background and not emphasized, but when I saw it I cracked-up.
Overall Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is a well acted, but a very light film. With the exception of that funny photo in the background it probably will not stay in my memory.
Grade = C