A Little Help

A Little Help is a film that was written and directed by Michael J. Weithorn and stars The Office’s Jenna Fischer.  Jenna Fischer plays the lead character Laura who occupies a broken marriage with her husband Bob played by Chris O’Donnell.  Laura is an emotionally blank and barely manages the responsibilities of being a wife and a mother.  Laura also abuses alcohol specifically the beverage Budweiser.  Laura’s family can’t rely on her to care about her life or the people in it.  Early on in the film Laura suffers a tragedy and is faced with making decisions about how to raise her twelve year old son and make herself happy.

What I love about the film A Little Help is that it’s honest.  Laura as a person has failed at life.  She lost her way at some point and gave up on life.  One thing that separates this drama from most of the other film’s that have a tragedy surrounding its story is that when things become difficult they stay difficult for a long period of time.  As much as I was watching Laura struggle to navigate the world around her after the tragedy she suffered, I also enjoyed being able to see the dynamics between her and other family members.  I have to say that her family treats her horribly throughout the film but I find that their actions are justified because they were so slow to react to how Laura was struggling to cope with life in the first place.  The relationship Laura has with her son Dennis is fractured because she depended on her husband to be the hero of the family.  A Little Help is simply about expectations.  What someone expects their life to be like and the shocking truth of the reality of what that person’s life actually is.  This central theme plays out for most of the characters in this film.

Jenna Fischer does some excellent work as Laura.  She’s broken, angry, and clueless to the harsh realities of life.  Jenna Fischer plays out an emotion I rarely see actresses display in films of this kind, feeling weathered.  Another standout actress in this film Is Brooke Smith who portrays Kathy, the wise older sister.  Immediately upon meeting Kathy you can tell she is in a marriage she does not want and is constantly fighting to prove to the rest of her family that she is a better daughter than the doted upon Laura.  Brooke plays Kathy with a surprising amount of resentment and slight disdain towards Laura almost as if Laura took the life Kathy wanted.

A Little Help is surprisingly moving because it doesn’t ask us to pity or understand the protagonist.  The film instead reminds us life is a journey and sometimes it takes people awhile to adjust to the bumps in the road.  Though Laura’s road is hard I would gladly travel with her any day of the week.

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