SO B. IT review
Directed by: Stephen Gyllenhaal
Starring: Talitha Bateman, Alfre Woodard, John Heard, Jessica Collins, Jacinda Barrett, Dash Mihok, and Cloris Leachman
When we don't talk about our past we can't expect to understand our present. There is always a story on how we got here and the people who brought us. Our medical histories, sense of identity, cultural heritage, and family gossip deeply affect and shape who we are. The most important journeys we take are the ones where we start by looking in.
Based on the bestselling YA novel by the same name, SO B. IT follows Heidi (Bateman), a precocious young girl who embarks on a journey across the country to uncover the story of her mother’s past and discovers herself along the way. Hedi is raised by her mentally disabled mother (Collins) who only uses 22 words and her agoraphobic neighbor (Woodard) who tries to protect her from inside their joined apartments.
SO B. IT is structured as something of a mystery, with the story of how these three characters found each other being the central question mark. Interestingly though, the how and why that drive young Hedi on her journey are the least compelling things about Gyllenhaal's adaptation. The real driving force behind this film is the character work. Bateman gives a brilliant performance, holding her own next to heavyweights like Alfre Woodard and the late John Heard. She has a difficult role, needing to balance the pathos of a pre-teen searching for her self with the charm of girl who is... lucky.
Not overly examined in the film, Hedi is gifted, she will tell you she is just lucky, but the ability to walk into a Reno laundromat, sit in front of a slot machine and turn $.25 into $80, is a gift. She can also guess the number of jelly beans in a jar and tell you heads or tails with 100 % accuracy. I'm not sure if this was something explored deeper in the novel but I love that its just something that, is. She wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider or given the one ring to rule them all, she's just "lucky."
Trying to find your place in the world can be a lifelong challenge depending on the circumstances and events that willed you into existence. SO B. IT is a story about the motivation that moves us all, the desire to find solace in the story that made us. The simplicity of Gyllenhaal's execution allows for powerful and often transcendent moments of grace. He has made a beautiful film.