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'The Vicious Kind'

Adam Scott's searing performance as an angry construction worker with heavy relationship issues is one of many strong elements in a memorable film.

December 11, 2009|By Gary Goldstein
  • ANGRY YOUNG MAN: Adam Scott received an Independent Spirit nomination, as did Lee Toland Krieger's script.
ANGRY YOUNG MAN: Adam Scott received an Independent Spirit nomination,… (72nd Street Productions )

Featuring a knockout performance by Adam Scott, a much-deserved 2009 Independent Spirit Award nominee for best male lead, "The Vicious Kind" upends the heavily tread dysfunctional family drama in ways that are unique, surprising and memorable.

The film, also up for best screenplay at the Spirits, should prove a solid launching pad for writer-director Lee Toland Krieger.

Set in small-town Connecticut over a Thanksgiving weekend, this sharp-tongued, emotionally resonant tale sets angry -- and, yes, kind of vicious -- construction worker Caleb Sinclaire (Scott) on a collision course with his virginal college-student brother Peter (Alex Frost), Peter's iffy girlfriend, Emma (Brittany Snow), and the brothers' brash but haunted father, Donald (J.K. Simmons).

The chain-smoking, sleep-deprived Caleb's vociferous mistrust of women fuels much of his wildly inappropriate, self-destructive behavior, which is set into overdrive by Emma's arrival on the scene.

But despite Caleb's dark belief that you must hurt someone to protect them, the movie is ultimately more concerned with healing and catharsis -- and the twisted path it sometimes takes to get there.

Scott (" Step Brothers," HBO's "Tell Me You Love Me") manages Caleb's tricky transition from bile-spewing jerk to intriguing, multidimensional human being with masterful precision, while Snow, Frost and Simmons also create deeply real characters under Krieger's vigilant eye.

Good soundtrack too.

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