Susan Granger’s review of “Angels Crest” (Magnolia Pictures)
Somber tragedy strikes the snowy, working-class, titular town in the Rocky Mountains when a loving father causes the accidental death of his three year-old son.
Auto mechanic Ethan Denton (Thomas Dekker) has custody of young Nathan because his estranged wife, Cindy (Lynn Collins), is an irresponsibly abusive alcoholic. One morning when he takes Nathan on an adventure into the woods, the tyke falls asleep, strapped into his car seat. So Nathan carefully locks his pickup truck on the side of the road and leaves for a few minutes to track a deer. When he returns, he discovers to his horror that Nathan has, inexplicably, disappeared. After Ethan frantically alerts friends, neighbors and police, a massive hunt begins – only to end the next morning with Ethan’s discovery of Nathan’s frozen body.
A dour district attorney (Jeremy Piven), who apparently lost his own child a while ago, is determined to bring Ethan to trial for criminally negligent homicide, while the townsfolk’s loyalties are torn about where the blame lies. Convinced that Ethan was careless, ambivalent Angie (Mira Sorvino) owns the local diner, and her toddler daughter Rosie was Nathan’s friend. Empathetic waitress Jane’s (Elizabeth McGovern) heart goes out to sorrowful Ethan, a sentiment not shared by her lesbian partner, Roxanne (Kate Walsh), who’s in a foul mood anyway because Jane’s penniless, homophobic, grown son has just moved in temporarily with his pregnant girl-friend. Cindy’s devout mother (Barbara Williams) resents the fact that she didn’t take custody of Nathan. Ethan’s best buddy Rusty (Joseph Morgan) regrets that he was bedding Cindy when Ethan called him to help with the search. And in a small town like this, everyone knows everyone’s business.
Based on the novel by Leslie Schwartz, it’s written by Catherine Trieschmann, who fails to fully delineate and develop her seemingly interdependent characters, and methodically directed by Gaby Dellal, best known for discovering new talent, like Sienna Miller and Max Minghella.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Angels Crest” is a hopelessly bleak 3, as traumatic guilt gnaws on everyone’s sensibilities.