A teenage girl (Sarah Bolger) in small-town Montana struggles to avoid making the same mistakes as her mother (Claire Danes), a high school dropout who had her at 16. This coming-of-age drama might trade in familiar narrative developments, but its characterization is rather nuanced. Even the characters who first seem like blue-collar stereotypes—like the heroine's fundamentalist Christian father—are revealed to be complicated and self-aware; with the exception of a sexually aggressive high school jock, no one comes off as a villain. Bolger, a 22-year-old Irish actress, is remarkably convincing as an American teenager, and James Marsden, a bland presence in so many Hollywood films, displays real depth as the father. Virginia Korus Spragg adapted a novel by Pete Fromm; Max Mayer directed.
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