by Isaac Sweeney
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On paper, the plot of Crossroads sounds boring. On screen, it’s a funny, quirky, insightful film.
Here’s the boring-sounding plot. Peter (Jacob Pitts) begins to doubt his calling as a Jesuit priest as the family life sounds more and more appealing. Peter decides to give priesthood one last try, working at a mission in Louisiana. There, he falls for the beautiful and intriguing Jill (Amy Acker). She wants the Peace Corps; he is unsure about a life of servitude and, more immediately, celibacy. Together, they challenge their lifelong dreams.
Enough with the boring stuff. It’s the quirks that make this movie memorable. Peter’s feet won’t stop growing, a metaphor for his other growth experiences. Peter has a fondness for beer and ice cream sandwiches, and makes friends with a lizard in his room. The curmudgeon down the road, played beautifully by Orson Bean, provides some hilarity; as a priest nearing retirement, he curses in front of children, smokes in the pews, and refers to Jill as “the hottie with small boobs.” In fact, the veteran supporting cast, including Bean, Alan Arkin, and Frank Langella, is a great complement to the young and tender leads.
I found myself caring about the characters’ decisions in the film. I’m glad the Gulf Coast turmoil wasn’t gratuitous. In fact, it was hardly mentioned, providing a dire situation necessary for the plot, nothing more. And I was both satisfied and disappointed in the end. Unlike many films, which present simple problems with obvious outcomes, Crossroads is about complex people, complex situations, and bittersweet solutions.
Murray Robinson wrote and directed the film. He deserves praise for an original, smart screenplay (except for the cliché title), which he accentuates with subtle and impactful direction. Crossroads is as delightful to look at as it is to listen to and become enthralled in.
Isaac Sweeney is a writer and educator in Virginia. Read his blog at http://www.wayswithwordsonline.com.
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