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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the Sludge of a Dysfunctional Midwestern Family
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN is a perplexing movie. The story seems as though someone threw the script up in the air with the fireflies in the garden (a quite beautiful moment in the film that suggest the night gardens of John Singer Sergent's `Carnation Lily, Lily Rose'), shot it full of holes and then reassembled it the next groggy morning. Pieces are simply missing: we are...
Published on February 26, 2012 by Grady Harp

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but at times confusing and at the end not that impactful
A little bit of an emotional movie, with a couple messages in the end. However I didn't find it to be all that impactful. One because a third of the movie I spent confused about who actually died (which makes it hard to relate or understand the emotions of the characters), and it doesn't get reveled or confirmed for sure until another 2/3rds into the movie. So that alone...
Published 3 months ago by O. Zuyev


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the Sludge of a Dysfunctional Midwestern Family, February 26, 2012
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This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN is a perplexing movie. The story seems as though someone threw the script up in the air with the fireflies in the garden (a quite beautiful moment in the film that suggest the night gardens of John Singer Sergent's `Carnation Lily, Lily Rose'), shot it full of holes and then reassembled it the next groggy morning. Pieces are simply missing: we are informed that the original version is 122 minutes while this version is only 89 minutes and it is likely that in the missing 33 minutes many of the unresolved and very confusing elements of time and place and character development and perplexing moments existed. Writer/Director Dennis Lee obviously had a fine story to share and a brilliant cast to offer it, but so much of it is missing that we are left frustrated.

Successful Romance novelist Michael Taylor (Ryan Reynolds) has completed his latest novel, a work of serious memoir literature in which he has recounted his childhood in an attempt to free himself from the influence of his demonic father, English professor Charles Taylor (William Dafoe) who seriously abused Michael as a child and for whom he holds little emotion but disdain. Michael has returned home for the college graduation of his sister Ryne (Shannon Lucio) as well as his mother's - Lisa (Julia Roberts) - deferred graduation. But the celebration is altered by an accident: Charles swerved to not hit his nephew Christopher (Chase Ellison), hit a pole resulting in a crash that killed Lisa and injured Charles and leaves Christopher with a dark cloud of guilt that he caused the trauma.

We gradually meet the family: Lisa's sister Jane (Emily Watson) is the mother of Christopher and his little sister and has always been the closest friend of Michael when they were children (as children, Michael is portrayed by Cayden Boyd and Jane by Hayden Panettiere ), At Lisa's funeral Michael's `ex-wife', AA reformed Kelly (Carrie-Anne Moss) shows up to add to Michael's angst. From here the film jumps back and forth between the childhood of Michael and Jane and the suffering and abuse Michael endured at the hands of his grotesquely diabolical father and the secrets of that failed family life are gradually exposed and the traumatic present. In cleaning out Lisa's things Michael discovers some information that alters his view of his past, and those discoveries lead to a change in the way Michael views his father and Jane's children and most significantly the demons that have burdened him through his life.

In addition to the fine work by Reynolds, Watson, Dafoe, Roberts, and all the other cast members, there is an important cameo for Ioan Gruffudd that opens the murk of the story well. Though this journey through the progress of a dysfunctional family has been done many times before and even frequently using the protagonist as a novelist about to open the secrets of the family's lives to the world, this story take some significant alternative routes that make it more tender. The uses of flashbacks could have been better edited so that the audience is aware of when the character changes occur, and there are many unanswered questions about how each of these characters came to inhabit the human roles they present here. But given the fact that the audience must stay completely alert during this film in order to follow this at times meandering story, this is a worthy film. One wonders why the missing 33 minutes were not included in the American release (the film was made in 2007 and it seems as though it never played the theaters, going instead directly to DVD). With a cast of this caliber this should have been a popular film. But where did those missing pages take us? Grady Harp, February 12
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in the Garden, January 31, 2012
This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
Length:: 2:29 Mins

These are times in which movie audiences are subjected to extreme doses of special effects, action, animation, violence, sex and the like. And, in each category, the moviemakers are trying to outdo each other, in terms of being more innovative. So it is an immense risk to make old-fashioned dramas, not necessary romantic, but about life's daily struggles. Despite all the trends, they still need to be made, as to document our times. The very engaging "Fireflies in Garden" does just that: it is a painful and passionate look at a given modern family, like many others in this crazy planet.

Right at the beginning of the film, we meet Michael Taylor (Ryan Reynolds, in a well-acted dramatic role), a successful writer that is on his way to his hometown to celebrate his mother Lisa's (Julia Roberts) graduation from college. Michael is kind of hard to read or understand, and you can feel that for some reason he is unwillingly going back home. Once he arrives to his hometown, tragedy strikes, and what was supposed to be a happy celebration turns into an incredibly sad occasion. Once in the house, facing the harsh reality in his life, he is sadly taken to his past and his relationship with his disturbingly strict father Charles (Willem Dafoe), a successful college professor of literature, who is being groomed to be the president of his prestigious teaching institution. Michael also has to re-examine his bonds with his sister Ryne (Shannon Lucio), and his aunt Jane (Emily Watson).

Well-directed by Dennis Lee, "Fireflies in Garden" is about how the past defines the present, and the struggles that we have to endure to accept it. It goes right to the heart and I'm glad that I watched it. The DVD includes a making-of documentary. (USA, 2007, color, 89 min plus additional materials)

Reviewed on January 30, 2012 exclusively by Eric Gonzalez for Sony Pictures.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MY GRADE: B plus to A minus., September 20, 2012
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MISTER SJEM "sonofhotpie" (CALIF BAY AREA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
This is one of those sleeper high quality films except it probably won't get noticed terribly in DVD sales simply because it doesn't have explosions, isn't a rom-com and wasn't recommended by the Academy Awards. It's too bad because there's a lot of high quality acting and wonderful tone setting in this family drama.

Tale focuses upon a romance novelist reflecting on his abusive time as a child in which his father verbally and physically abused him and put him through "torture" when he was displeased with the boy. Now, after the death of his mother, he has to face his father's anger as well as all of the other dysfunctional family members. He's got a novel written that is about his life growing up and basically lays out all the family dirt and he's trying to decide whether to get it published or not.

There's a bittersweet taste to this film. At times you laugh, at times you feel like you just got hit in the gut and other times you feel people are going to work out their differences. It's one of those films that tries to reflect real life so sometimes there are no happy and complete resolutions but for myself I left the picture feeling satisfied with the delivery. It's nice to see a film every now and then that admits things aren't always resolved like a fairy tale. That's called fantasy, people. That said, I felt the main character worked things out just not in a Pollyanna manner.

There's an all star cast here, including several who took supporting roles: Willem Dafoe, Julia Roberts, Carrie-Ann Moss, Emily Watson, Ryan Reynolds, Hayden Panettiere and Ioan Gruffud.

The budget for this picture was $8M (which tells me a lot of big names took pay cuts to work on a project they believe in) but it only made a bit over $3M at the Box Office. We'll see if it does better in DVDs and residuals.

Written and directed by Dennis Lee. Some say his tale is autobiographical. Note that the movie was edited and seems to be missing over 20 minutes so their may be a director's cut at a later point.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: B plus to A minus; STORY/PLOTTING/EDITING: B plus; CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: A minus; THEMES/FAMILY FOCUSES: B plus to A minus; WHEN WATCHED: mid September 2012; OVERALL GRADE: B plus to A minus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie, December 6, 2012
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Well written, directed, and excellent cast. Unexpected, unpredictable twists and an unusual plot. Julia Roberts is a star as usual.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it a lot, June 10, 2012
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This review is from: Fireflies In The Garden (Amazon Instant Video)
I just finished watching this movie. I liked it a lot. I was disappointed that Julia Roberts didn't have more time, as I think they should have more of her story line in the movie, but otherwise, I thought it was a good movie.
If you grew up in a totally normal, functional family, you probably will not connect with this movie and think it IS a horrible movie. If so, consider yourselves blessed then and watch a different movie. I had dysfunction in mine, so I could identify with all the characters and their feelings (and cried a few tears in places). I personally liked the ending. There is only so many ways you can end a movie like this, and I thought the ending said it all. All in all, well worth the rental fee!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved it!!!, March 30, 2012
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This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
Fireflies in the Garden is a movie one will love more if you have been in a similar situation before. I've read many reviews saying that the movie just brings together a lot of cliches about family dramas and that there's nothing more to it. I, for one think that the movie is very realistic and a little different too. The script touches your heart. Superb acting by Ryan Reynolds and Julia Roberts but the best performance in the movie was Willem Dafoe's performance. He plays the cold and mean father to the T. I saw the movie in 2008. I have to say that the '08 version was better. There are some very critical cuts made to the US version. The edited scenes make the movie more beautiful.
The movie is no masterpiece but if you wanna watch a emotional family drama, I really suggest you watch this one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but at times confusing and at the end not that impactful, October 4, 2014
A little bit of an emotional movie, with a couple messages in the end. However I didn't find it to be all that impactful. One because a third of the movie I spent confused about who actually died (which makes it hard to relate or understand the emotions of the characters), and it doesn't get reveled or confirmed for sure until another 2/3rds into the movie. So that alone makes it not the best. Secondly the there is like four different story lines doing on throughout the movie and pretty much none of them actually go into dept enough to be resolved or even make an emotional connection with the move. The whole movie seems a bit confusing and unresolved, slightly good and get not impactful. I would give it an "OK" rating.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fireflies, April 23, 2014
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This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
It was okay. It is hard getting used to, as, I am used to some other Julia Roberts movies.

Anne Stickles
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5.0 out of 5 stars Product: Excellent condition, Movie: Messed with my head., February 17, 2014
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This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
The product was in excellent condition and arrived WAY sooner than I was expecting. The movie itself brought up some anxiety-ridden feelings. The dad was too much like my ex husband. I was not expecting that. The ending was not expected. It took me a little bit to figure out what was really going on in the movie, a little confusing but with the ending and the way it happened, made for a very good movie in my opinion....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in the Garden-A MUST see!!, January 3, 2014
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This review is from: Fireflies in the Garden (DVD)
It was not the standard i have parent/child issues movie. The ending was not sweet and mushy. It was real.life but yet I felt like something was accomplished.
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