British high school student Sophie (Felicity Jones) comes to stay with the Reynolds, her host family for a school semester. Dad Keith (Guy Pearce) is a part-time cellist and high school music teacher. Mom Megan (Amy Ryan) runs an antique store and collects vintage cookie jars. Daughter Lauren (Mackenzie Davis) is a star swimmer and high school student.
But something in the tilted handheld camera and grayish light hints at melancholy and discontent. Even in moments of near-perfect domestic bliss, when the family is gathered in the kitchen preparing lunch together, there are indications of tension between Keith and Megan. The clues are subtle, because everything looks perfect on the surface- but the problems continue to reappear.
It’s at this point in the game when darkly beautiful Sophie arrives on scene. Felicity Jones (“Like Crazy,” “The Invisible Woman”) is luminous as the 18-year-old piano prodigy with daddy issues. Quiet and reserved, Sophie is taking a personal hiatus from playing the piano, and she confesses to Keith why she’s stopped: “I just don’t know who I’m playing for.”
But what started as softly beautiful and quietly gloomy turns into an annoying tale of deceived wife, bratty daughter, and dissatisfying conclusions.
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