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The Odd Life of Timothy Green - Review

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

AS ODD as its title suggests, this Disney fairytale of sorts is a well-meaning but unsuccessful curiosity.

Directed and co-written by Peter Hedges (of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape fame), The Odd Life of Timothy Green begins as devoted married couple Jim (Joel Edgerton) and Cindy (Jennifer Garner) are told they cannot conceive.

Devastated they go home and spend the ensuing evening making a wish-list of things they would want for their child (honesty, physical prowess, etc) and bury it in the back garden. Overnight, however, their home is hit by a freak storm that subsequently brings a child to their door, covered in mud and calling himself Timothy.

As Jim and Cindy try to make sense of it, Timothy begins calling them mum and dad, prompting them to suspect a miracle has taken place. But even they are at a loss to explain the leaves growing out of his legs.

In another guise, Hedges’ movie could have been a horror film given the propensity of that genre to use creepy kids to unsettle households. And there are some viewers who might find the idea of turning the issue of conception into a fairytale equally horrific given how emotionally devastating failure to be able to can be.

It’s a flawed premise that even with the best of intentions the film fails to overcome and which also makes it difficult to figure out who it’s aimed at. For while there are more traditional coming-of-age elements, they never make for a convincing mix with the more adult themes at play. Hence, kids may well be bored and adults completely flummoxed.

That’s not to disregard some of the film’s successes. There are some nice moments between the cast and several scenes that subvert feel-good expectation, while confronting other issues such as confidence, identity and dealing with emotionally disconnected parents on the one hand and helicopter parenting on the other.

The performances, too, are good with Edgerton, Garner and the impossibly sweet CJ Adams holding centre-stage well and character performers such as David Morse, Dianne Wiest and Rosemarie DeWitt making their mark.

But overall Hedges’ film is just too odd and a little too contrived structurally and thematically to feel anything other than misguided.

Certificate: U
Running time: 105mins
UK Release Date: April 5, 2013