Award-winning writer and director Sara Colangelo has reworked her short film Little Accidents into a full-length feature, which premieres at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Set in a small Appalachian town, the film opens following a calamitous coal-mining accident that has taken the lives of a number of the town’s men. Junior Briggs, one of the deceased, leaves behind his wife and young boys, Owen and James, who has Down’s syndrome. For Owen, an attempt at ingratiating himself with the older boys from his school as they down beers and play rough in the surrounding forest turns sour when he unintentionally kills TJ, after the latter insults him by calling him “trailer trash”.
TJ’s father happens to be in a managerial position at the coal mine and at the centre of a dispute between the remaining workers, some of whom claim that he has neglected their safety and is directly responsible for the recent catastrophe. The only survivor of the disaster is Amos Jenkins, who has recently come out of a coma and is permanently physically affected. He becomes a sort of guardian figure for Owen and at the same time befriends TJ’s mother, a frustrated housewife, after she begins attending the town’s Bible study group, of which he is a member.
Thus, the titular series of “little accidents” throws together the three central characters of this bleakly moving tale. The beautiful and perpetually wet wooded landscape provides the perfect backdrop for an environment where old grudges and grim secrets are allowed to fester and turn dank. Indeed, there is a sense throughout of every character having a rich history of which this film only scratches the surface.
However, for some, the ideas may be a little clichéd and areas of the plot not fully allowed to develop, such as the emergent love triangle. Furthermore, there is a lack of action in response to the coal mining incident, which is frustrating after such an emotional build up. One is left with the feeling that Colangelo could remake the film yet again and tease out a richer narrative with a greater impact.
For further information about Little Accidents visit here.