Though I tried, I couldn’t stay away from spoilers.
Being open minded towards indie flicks is the best thing ever because you most likely end up stumbling upon quirky little flicks that the general public doesn’t like but you end up devouring with joy. Mediocre score, lukewarm reviews – doesn’t matter because maybe that movie is gathered to a specific audience. That audience, including me, is against the masses who also, despite of a 6.1 score on IMDb, think Kelly & Cal is worth so much more.
Kelly & Cal tells a story that has become extremely popular these past few years – an older woman sparks up a relationship with a younger boy. This relationship isn’t necessarily romantic, but all of these movies tend to have the fundamental elements like chemistry, flirting and attraction beyond physical needs. What makes Kelly & Cal’s story a little bit different is the grand performance by Juliette Lewis and the meaningfulness behind the main characters.
Told through a script that is left a little messy, Kelly (Lewis) is a new suburban mom who doesn’t seem to have a handle on her life. She has everything, a loving husband, a healthy little newborn, a house in a lovely neighborhood but she is unable to shake away that adventures part of her. When she meets Calvin (Jonny Weston), a neighborhood boy with a bit of an attitude, she is taken aback at first but then, realizing he is in a wheelchair, feels sorry for him. Needless to say the two start a friendship that is solely meant for two of them, away from judgment and those who think they know better. In this environment, it is understandable for a young 17 year old, secluded from all his friends due to a spinal injury, to develop feelings beyond friendship.
Lewis’ performance is great, which doesn’t come as a surprise, but suffers a little due to the material that has a strong opening and a shaky ending. That being said, though the ending does have its weaknesses, the very last scene between Kelly and Calvin is actually the strongest and most honest interaction in the movie. It broke my heart, even though I knew Calvin was never going to end up with Kelly, because Jonny Weston’s performance had crawled its way into my heart and all I wanted to do was hug him senseless. And here’s the thing, when a performance alone can pierce through your heart, isn’t the movie, despite its flaws, worth a praise?
Obviously, since I’ve given Kelly & Cal a high rating, I tend to support the emotional side of movies that elevate the whole experience. Sure, some of the dialog was a little rocky, and sure, the supportive characters could have used a bit more depth, but the sorrow I felt for Calvin trumps all of that! He was hurt, and he was in pain, and Kelly was the only one who seemed to understand his loneliness which made their relationship so real and honest.
For her feature film directorial debut, Jen McGowan focused on the details and gave us a story that was more about the characters than what was happening to them. Many scenes were beautiful but one in particular stood out and it was where Kelly and Calvin were dancing. For a person who doesn’t understand the idea of being trapped in a wheelchair, seeing Calvin dance in his own way, and having Kelly dance with him, was simply beautiful. And those little moments, those miniature touches and looks, those almost unnoticeable emotions behind the characters McGowan shows us, elevate Kelly & Cal into something much more.