Other People's Children
Sam (Diane Marshall-Green), an aspiring filmmaker, grieves over the recent death of her father (Scott Patterson), and return back home to Los Angeles where she resorts to drinking her sorrows away. Her life changes when she meets and befriends a homeless man, P.K. (Chad Michael Murray), who agrees to let himself as well as his homeless friends be part of her new documentary. She develops a romance with him and even lets his friends crash at her place. Josh (Michael Mosley), Sam's ex-boyfriend, disapproves of her relationship with P.K., though, and still harbors feelings for her.
Director Liz Hinlein and Adrienne Harris deserve to be commended for choosing to making a romantic drama that deals with significant, complex life issues such as grief, ambition (or lack thereof), homelessness, compassion and loss. However, as Roger Ebert once keenly stated, it's more important to observe how a filmmaker tells a story than what the story is about. In the case of Other People's Children, the screenplay lacks both plausibility and depth because it shies away from showing the gritty side of homelessness or the darker side of grief that lurks underneath the surface. The possibilities for those essential elements are there, but it's too few scenes feel authentic while the characters of Sam and P.K. never truly come to life. Moreover, the flashback scenes showing Sam's relationship with her father seem a bit heavy-handed---flashback scenes, to be fair, are generally very tricky in terms of how they lazily fill in the gaps for the audience instead of allowing the audience to rely on their own intelligence and imagination. 45 Years did a great job of avoiding the trappings of flashbacks, for instance, by briefly having one of its protagonists looking through photos from an album projected onto a screen.
The performances by Diane Marshall-Green and Chad Michael Murray as well as the other cast members are decent, but they don't have enough strong material to shine here, so, therefore, there's very little palpable chemistry between them onscreen. A grittier, braver and more organic screenplay would've helped to create that much-needed chemistry as well as other forms of humanism which I refer to as truly special effects; CGI should be called "standard effects" instead. At a running time of 1 hour and 25 minutes, Other People's Children is ultimately stilted, undercooked and shallow despite its promising premise.