Martian Child - Why Do You Have to Be From Mars Anyway?
| Martian Child has all the potential in the world to be a sappy, manipulative, Hollywood tear jerker, but it avoids the typical traps and ends up as a lovely, touching and honest film. Films about troubled kids are often sappy but when they can find some truth to them, they can be powerful experiences.
John Cusack has a lot to do with this. He is always an understated performer and I find this is a strength as he brings a sense of realism to his roles. He is never overly dramatic but he makes us believe he is a science fiction writing widower adopting a child. And he makes us believe he is feeling what his character is feeling. He makes us believe his struggles and joys. There is a moment where he cries that feels so right and never crosses into manipulation territory. This raises the picture above what could have felt like a TV movie of the week.
Also strong is Bobby Coleman as Cusackís troubled adopted son. The two of them together have incredible chemistry and you believe they could care for each other as they do. This is what Martian Child is about. Believing. Believing in being yourself and that loving each other for it can get us through.
The story is a simple one but the film makers craft it with such a strong sense of honesty that it feels real. Okay, the ending is a little dramatic and over the top and probably could have been far more realistically rendered, but it is still a strong pay off.
The film is also quite funny. I find that often the most truthful films find humour in tragedy and this one nails the humour. Joan Cuscak, who also has great chemistry with her brother, is a great addition to the cast. I love watching these two work together.
I also appreciated that the romance between John Cusack and Amanda Peetís characters doesnít over shadow the movie. It is an unnecessary addition to the plot but it is handled subtly and it ends up being charming. It also brings an element of hope to the whole thing.
I donít know if the movie touched me more due to my experience with adoption or not, but I found that Martian Child a thoroughly satisfying experience. Itís well balanced and sincere for a Hollywood film and doesnít feel phoney. All we can ask for is a little truth in our fiction.