"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.