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Laura Smiles 2006
Description: "Laura Smiles" is an alarmingly effective portrait of a woman's mental breakdown. We are introduced to "Laura" at her happiest time, in a warm, loving relationship with her fiancé (a very appealing Kip Pardue) in the city, literally the love of her life. In flashbacks, we then see the sweet development of this relationship out of order as these moments become brightly lit and colourful memories that desperately intrude on her soon in life, as she becomes consumed with guilt and remorse over his fate. These feelings begin to overwhelm her actual life as a wife and mother. As something inconsequential in what she calls her "suburban drudgery" triggers the past -- in the supermarket, cooking, cleaning, at a school play-- she acts out increasingly aberrantly to counteract the feelings they generate, especially when she can no longer distinguish past from show from dreams, recalling Blanche Du Bois.
Released: 24 Apr 2005 Director: Jason Ruscio Writers: Jason Ruscio Actors: Kip Pardue, Ted Hartley, Petra Wright, Mark Derwin Genres: Drama
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Laura Smiles Reviews:

"Laura Smiles" is an alarmingly effective portrait of a woman's mental breakdown.We are introduced to "Laura" at her happiest time, in a warm, loving relationship with her fiancé (a very appealing Kip Pardue) in the city, literally the love of her life. In flashbacks, we then see the sweet development of this relationship out of order as these moments become brightly lit and colourful memories that desperately intrude on her soon in life, as she becomes consumed with guilt and remorse over his fate.These feelings begin to overwhelm her actual life as a wife and mother. As something inconsequential in what she calls her "suburban drudgery" triggers the past -- in the supermarket, cooking, cleaning, at a school play-- she acts out increasingly aberrantly to counteract the feelings they generate, especially when she can no longer distinguish past from show from dreams, recalling Blanche Du Bois.While writer/director Jason Ruscio told in Q & A at the Tribeca Movie Festival that he was inspired by the break-up of his relationship with the lead actress Petra Wright, the movie is the most vivid portrayal I've seen of manic depression. Whereas depression is usually portrayed in movies simplistically as catatonia, as in "Off the Map," here we see her acting out, in methods that ended up losing the audience's sympathy for her. She is also set up in contrast to the boys around her who are sympathetic or understandable, including Jonathan Silverman as a grief-stricken lover who can hold in touch with reality. Nor do the therapy sessions create her more sympathetic, as she lies to the shrink and then, frighteningly, the therapy doesn't even support her.It becomes as painful for the audience as for her to recall her earlier satisfied life as she seems to leave the show for it, like a Jack Finney time travel story.This is a raw, bleak "Desperate Housewives" without the humor or satire.


Written and directed by Jason Ruscio, the ironically titled "Laura Smiles" is a profound and provocative exploration of how we cope with tragedy and loss in our lives. As the film opens, Laura is a 25-year-old aspiring actress who appears headed for a bright and satisfied future, thanks to a career that seems to be on the mission of taking off and her newest engagement to a boy who loves her. All that changes in an instant, however, when her fiancé is run over and killed by a motorist on a busy Manhattan thoroughfare. Flash forward nine years to search Laura comfortably ensconced in a middle class suburban home with a devoted husband and a loving young son. The problem is that Laura wanders through life like a shell-shocked zombie, emotionally slash off from the folks around her. Should it be the result of that traumatizing happening in the past, or is there something deeper and more endemic to her personality that keeps Laura from finding fulfillment and happiness in her life? As she confides to the therapist who is trying to support her, "How can everything be right, yet feel so wrong?" - a lament most of us have probably sounded at some mission or another in our lives.Whatever the cause of her dissatisfaction and angst, Laura's life has become tiny more than a tedious ritual of psychically enervating, soul-crushing banality. Unable to search fulfillment in her marriage, Laura turns to one-night-stands and an affair with her husband's greatest mate for meaning and solace. But to no avail, for nothing seems capable of filling the void that exists at the very center of her soul.This is a beautifully made movie - stark, spare, contemplative and poetic. Stripped of all slickness and theatricality, the film really feels as if it is capturing life as we live it. Indeed, precisely because it is a bit raw and rough around the edges - Ruscio deliberately overexposes the movie stock in few scenes - "Laura Smiles" draws us more deeply into the lives of the characters and the globe they inhabit than if the film had all the trappings that come with a higher budget. Ruscio has also come up with a sophisticated nonlinear narrative structure which, far from confusing us, now supports to clarify some of the seemingly irrational and self-destructive behavior we see Laura indulging in.Petra Wright is poignant and touching as the girl trapped in her own psychic hell, while Kip Pardue, Tag Derwin and Jonathan Silverman offer perfect help as the different boys in her life.Is it possible, Laura wonders in a moment of heartbreaking introspection, for a person to search current fulfillment or happiness in this life - or are we all doomed to endlessly grasping for that tantalizing, ever elusive "something" that will remain forever beyond our reach? The movie doesn't presume to respond that question, but it at least has the courage to ask it and, indeed, to discover it with a lvl of profundity and artistry to do it justice.This is a film that got virtually no theatrical release - testing in only one theater and grossing a measly $4,558 - before heading to video, yet it turns out to be one of the most thoughtful and moving motion pictures of 2007. And this is hardly the only independent movie of newest times to suffer such a fate. Tells more about American audiences and distributors than it does about the films themselves perhaps.


This movie is about a suburban housewife's marriage falling apart because of her unresolved problems in the past.Though the movie is initially slow, it gets better steadily during the course of the film. The plot is non linear, but it is easy understandable and well told. I like how happenings are partially presented first, and then said in more feature after another happenings are laid out to create more sense of the initial event. The lead character, Laura, is portrayed amazingly. Petra Wright wide range of emotions is impressive, and I am surprised that she has not made it big. If this movie had large A List stars in it, I am confident it would be a hit.



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