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Movie review: 'Like Dandelion Dust'

Adoptive parents face the loss of their child to his biological parents years later because of a legal technicality in this well-acted, resonant film.

October 02, 2010|Michael OrdoƱa, Special to the Los Angeles Times

"Like Dandelion Dust" is a well-acted, earnest film about adoptive parents' worst nightmare, dealing sympathetically with all parties in a lose-lose situation.

Jack and Molly Campbell ( Cole Hauser and Kate Levering) very happily made Joey ( Maxwell Perry Cotton) part of their family six years ago; biological parents Rip and Wendy Porter ( Barry Pepper and Mira Sorvino) have recovered from their severe troubles to reclaim Joey on a technicality. Rip's alcoholism and violent tendencies resulted in the seven-year prison stay that enabled the legally tainted adoption to occur, which would seem to unfairly tilt the dramatic scales in the Campbells' favor.

Strong acting saves the day here, the solid cast delivering emotional performances without slipping into self-indulgence and helping the film, for the most part, steer clear of melodrama.

Pepper is multilayered as a man struggling to reform himself into a good husband and father, while Sorvino is convincing as a wife and mother determined to heal her family. Hauser, particularly, has developed into a grounded, self-assured presence; his and Levering's desperation is resonant.

The film packs some emotional punch, as in a heartbreaking scene in which the Campbells explain to Joey that he has to go with the Porters for a time. Meanwhile, we see the damage done to a marriage as the couple faces losing the child.

"Like Dandelion Dust" loses its way a bit with a superfluous plot detour and dips its toes into the maudlin toward the disappointingly too-neat ending. But for the most part, the film is quietly effective and likely acutely painful to parents, adoptive or not.

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