ReelBob: 2016 Heartland Film Festival: ‘Occupy, Texas’
By Bob Bloom
“Occupy, Texas” is a family drama with just enough bite to keep it from being too saccharine.
The movie centers on a young man who, seven years earlier, simply up and left his family and friends in Texas to join those in the Northwest protesting economic inequality in the nation.
For all those years, Beau Baker, played by the film’s writer, Gene Gallerano, has been living on the streets, still protesting for a cause that has passed him by.
He returns home after learning his parents were killed in a car accident.
Beau believes he is simply attending his parents’ funeral, but later learns that, according to their will, he has been named the guardian of his little sisters, 12-year-old Arden (Catherine “Cappy” Elvir) and 17-year-old Claire (Lorelei Linklater).
Beau is as dismayed as his Aunt Uma (Peri Gilpin), who considers him irresponsible, and was planning herself on raising the girls and selling their parents’ house.
Beau reluctantly agrees to hang around, while Uma leaves town for a few weeks to finish up some business so she can devote her time to her nieces.
Beau’s parenting skills can be described as lackadaisical at best. He allows the girls to basically do what they want, eat what they want and skip school.
Arden, who was 5 when Beau left, has no real memories of her big brother and begins to bond with him. Claire, meanwhile, is very resentful of her older sibling whom she believes deserted their family.
It’s easy to see where “Occupy, Texas” is heading, but that does not deter you from enjoying the journey.
Director Jeff Barry keeps the movie at a decent pace, so its 93-plus-minutes waltz by without many dead spots.
Some subplots are distractions, such as Beau’s pursuit of a former girlfriend who is now married and works as a counselor at his sisters’ private girls’ school.
Mainly, though, the performances are the reason to see “Occupy, Texas.”
While Gallerano gives a sincere performance, it could have been a bit more edgy. He makes the transition from a guy living on the streets for many years to man of the house too easily.
A little more tension or drama would have helped.
The fun is watching Gallerano’s Beau slowly evolve into accepting responsibility.
The acting by Elvir and Linklater steal the movie. Elvir’s Arden is adorable as a girl on the cusp of teenage, who desperately wants to connect with her long-lost brother.
Linklater’s Claire mostly has her head buried in a smartphone and is continually texting, coming up for air to sporadically make sarcastic or scornful remarks to punctuate her displeasure with Beau.
“Occupy, Texas” is a feel-good feature about the strong ties that keep families united despite distance and time.
It’s a film you can wrap around yourself and snuggle.
Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom.
3½ stars out of 4
“Occupy, Texas” will screen at the Heartland Film Festival at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at AMC Castleton Square 14; 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at Showplace Traders Point 12; 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23 and 3:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at AMC Castleton Square 14; 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at Showplace Traders Point 12; 1:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and 12:45 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at AMC Castleton Square 14.