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Radio Flyer

Radio Flyer
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Reviewer:Jason Buchanan, Though at times falling into the familiar trappings of over-sentimentalized family melodrama, Richard Donner's sensitive tale of a childhood marred by abuse is ultimately redeemed by Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazzello's fine performances and Donner's symbolic handling of the material. It goes without question that child abuse is a difficult topic to present to an audience, though with screenwriter David Mickey Evans' decision to filter it through the innocent eyes of children, and director Donner's lens following cue appropriately, the film successfully conveys the trauma of abuse from a cinematically ideal perspective. Though a less established director may not have the skill to carry off the story with this approach, Donner's ability to extract skillful performances from his youthful actors provides the film with the precise performances it needs to succeed. Though never seen directly, Adam Baldwin's performance as the menacing head of the household who demands to be addressed as "the King" provides a faceless nightmare of a monster more threatening than any comic-book creature, and Lorraine Bracco's performance as a mother who refuses to see his atrocities is in turns frustrating and sympathetic. With an open-ended coda that offers no clear answers, the film remains true to its childlike sense of wonder and discovery. The fact the viewer is never given a clear indication as to the ultimate fate of the sibling so desperate to escape his troubled home safeguards the possibility of his victory in an obscure, endearing manner. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi