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BLUE CAR

A budding poet, disturbed by the break-up of her parents' marriage and the abrupt departure of her father, finds more than the father figure she bargained for in her manipulative high-school English teacher.

CAST: Agnes Bruckner, David Strathairn, Margaret Colin, Frances Fisher, A.J. Buckley, Regan Arnold, Sarah Beuhler, Amy Benedict

DIRECTOR: Karen Moncrieff

"It can happen late in a career, or early, or several times, but what all performers hope for is that defining role, a part that makes full use of all they have to give at a particular moment in time. For Agnes Bruckner, not yet 18, ‘Blue Car’ is that kind of film…Bruckner's Meg is achingly real, a teenager who embodies all the contradictions, confusions, yearnings and suspicions of someone who is growing up too fast but is impatient for things to happen faster still…even with its drawbacks, ‘Blue Car’ remains an intimate, thoughtful drama, with a performance no one is likely to forget." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"Mr. Strathairn's complex, exquisitely nuanced portrayal of a man who goes over the line allows his character to be both hero and villain, sometimes at once…‘Blue Car’ is a most impressive writing and directing debut for Karen Moncrieff…Mr. Strathairn's performance is matched in complexity by Ms. Bruckner's Meg…The skill with which she evokes a mixture of childish willfulness and literary precocity, along with a deceptively poised awareness of herself as a desirable woman, nearly matches Alison Lohman's breakout performance last year in ‘White Oleander.’" --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"A memory of the automobile in which a father drove away from his family provides the title for ‘Blue Car’ but no hint of the power of writer-director Karen Moncrieff's superb feature debut...It's high praise to compare Moncrieff with the dazzling Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay (‘Ratcatcher,’ ‘Morvern Callar’). Each has a knockout storytelling voice and works with a raw, innately feminine strength that scrubs away the soapy film from sad sagas…Strathairn's portrayal of a flawed man is so moving and Bruckner's Meg so painfully true -- a breakthrough performance -- that thoughts of ‘Lolita’ are left far behind… Here's hoping that in her poetic future, Moncrieff will remain independent, free to deepen all the colors of her talent." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"This is a fresh, compassionate, uncompromising film, one that never stoops to sentimentality, faux lyricism or blurry moralizing. Moncrieff’s vision is clear, hard and substantial and, in the end, we feel deeply for the stubborn, frequently irresponsible Meg, just as we come to accept, if not quite applaud, the furtive, unfulfilled Mr. Auster...Praise is due to every actor in this surprisingly polished gem, and especially to writer-director Karen Moncrieff." --Guy Flatley, Moviecrazed

"…a film of considerable emotional power and heft…The circumstances of ‘Blue Car’ may be so singular that the movie can't transcend itself and make a statement that connects with an audience that has problems other than these. On the other hand, Bruckner and Strathairn give nakedly emotional performances and the momentum of ‘Blue Car’ is propulsive, as well as always vaguely dangerous." --John Anderson, Newsday

Even without nudity, the sex scene between Meg and Auster is one of the most uncomfortable on film…Strathairn, as nonthreatening an actor as Moncrieff might have cast, is convincing as what Meg thinks he is, and seems to morph into a sleazy hustler. It's not a performance he'll want to watch…Bruckner is superb in a role that requires as much inaction as action. The childlike Meg cannot express herself away from her poetry, and the way Bruckner locks up at moments when we want to cry out on her behalf is the work of a seasoned pro…‘Blue Car’ is a fine first film, and one you won't easily forget." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"The weepie pitfalls are avoided thanks to Karen Moncrieff, a first-time writer and director with a tough core of intelligence and wit. Strathairn works miracles by finding the humanity in a deeply flawed man. And Bruckner is an amazement, piercing the heart without begging for sympathy. This small gem of a movie is the perfect setting for her breakthrough performance." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"Ms. Moncrieff's low-key directing is matched by fine acting from Agnes Bruckner as Meg and David Strathairn as her mentor. Aside from a somewhat schematic climax, this is as smart a debut as we've seen in a long while." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"… an unflinchingly honest coming-of-age portrait…Karen Moncrieff's deliberately paced debut profits from top-notch performances across the board. Chief among these is an outstandingly intuitive turn by newcomer Agnes Bruckner. The camera loves her expressive brown eyes and bow lips and, as the Lolita-like high schooler Meg, she hits just the right note of coltish sensuality." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post