(Drama) Ever since the premature death of his father, Duncan (Joshua Jackson) has been content with drifting aimlessly through life. When he takes a job in order to be near his ill grandfather (Sutherland) and grandmother (Fletcher), he begins to find purpose. The newfound sense of being needed, plus a budding romance with Kate (Lewis), begins to change Duncan profoundly.
Joshua Jackson adds another poignant role to his resume as he continues to distance himself from his breakthrough role as hapless Pacey Witter on the television series Dawson's Creek
. In the sweet family drama Aurora Borealis
, Jackson portrays Duncan, a twentysomething former hockey player who deals with the death of his father--10 years prior--by bonding with his grandfather Ronald (Donald Sutherland), whose own health is deteriorating due to the onset of dementia. Though others dismiss his rambling as the babbles of an old man, Duncan sees that however his grandfather may seem, he has moments of lucidity. His grandfather claims he can see the Aurora Borealis from his balcony, and who is Duncan to contradict him? Both share a sardonic and sarcastic sense of humor, as well as a feeling of guilt about their respective losses. While Duncan sees Ronald as a fairly strong man, his grandmother (Louise Fletcher) worries about her husband's obsession with guns. Duncan also develops feelings for his grandfather's free-spirited nurse Kate (Juliette Lewis), a development that surprises no one. Lewis has played similar roles before, but she brings such vivaciousness to her part that viewers can see why Duncan is smitten. She's emboldened to move forward and start a new life, while he's reticent to let go of the past and move toward the unknown. At one point, Duncan has to decide whether he can let go of his fears to try to make a future for himself with Kate. The film moves at a slow pace, but that actually works with the plot, since it mirrors Duncan's own hesitation. The acting all around is superb, especially in the interactions between Jackson and Sutherland. In the end, it doesn't really matter whether Ronald can see the Northern Lights. If he believes he can, then he can. And that's the kind of optimism that his grandson so desperately needs. --Jae-Ha Kim