First time writer/director Matthew Ryan Hoge has seen AMERICAN BEAUTY a few too many times. This film is like an entire movie following the weird neighbor Ricky from the Oscar winner. This is the film’s crucial mistake.
At the start, Leland P. Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling, THE NOTEBOOK) stabs autistic boy Ryan Pollard (Michael Welch, STAR TREK: INSURRECTION) twenty times and laments about the sadness. Leland is an emotionally stunted young man who is consumed by emotion but cannot express it. His father -- famed writer Albert T. Fitzgerald (Kevin Spacey, AMERICAN BEAUTY) -- has no relationship with his son, except for his purchase of a trip every year for Leland. (Note: Do not name a famous writer character after a famous writer unless you are writing about the real famous writer.) Albert comes to town smelling a book, but doesn’t ever go to see his son.