Inventing The Abbotts

More impressive for its script and cast than for its handling of place and period, this fresh coming-of-age story about two working-class brothers (Joaquin Phoenix and Billy Crudup) and three wealthy sisters (Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly, and Joanna Going) in small-town Illinois during the late 50s is a beautifully constructed narrative. And despite some awkwardness in Pat O’Connor’s direction when it comes to establishing a world wider than that of the characters, the sincerity and craft of the actorsespecially Phoenix, Tyler, and Kathy Baker as the boys’ widowed motherput it across. With Will Patton; adapted by Ken Hixon from a Sue Miller story. (JR)

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