Fly Away Home
Fly Away Home has been marketed as an innocuously cheerful bit of high-concept family fluff: Geese meet girl, geese follow girl, girl and geese fly over pretty landscapes and past corporate office building. In fact, Fly Away Home does make good family fare, but not because of the tepidness often associated with that label: It's wholesome without being shallow. Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels both establish great screen presences; Paquin is a New Zealand girl whose mother is killed during the opening credits, and Daniels is her long-absent but cool, Boho-liberal-inventor father who brings her back to his farm in rural Ontario. Paquin is particularly good, playing a more conventional character than in The Piano, but bringing depth to her early scenes of grief and depression. Surprisingly, she achieves moments of transcendent beauty with her geese long before any of them leave the ground. What doesn't work as well are the transitions between these moods: Needless obstacles include a villainous game warden; about a reel's worth of laborious and humorless planning of a trip south; and an inappropriately cute shower disaster scene that seems like an attempt to lighten the mood, but which instead serves to trivialize the fear and pain Paquin's character feels. All this is forgettable, but also forgivable given the moments of genuine emotional connection throughout.