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Raising Flagg
USA 2006
Directed by Neal Miller
Running time 103 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Raising Flagg is one of those low-budget independent films about ordinary family dynamics that we love so much and that the Americans do so well. Shot in high definition digital video it doesn’t have the bigger budget pizzaz of similar films such as Little Miss Sunshine (also 2006, in which Alan Arkin plays a comparable and Oscar-nominated role) or C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005) but it is engaging and amusing enough in a low-key way. Arkin plays Flagg, a cranky old coot in small-town Oregon who gets into a feud with his neighbour (Austin Pendleton) over water rights. Flagg wins his court case but takes to his bed claiming that he is dying and leaving his wife (played by Arkin’s ex-wife Barbara Dana) and his adult offspring to face the end of (his) days.

Arkin and then-wife Dana created the roles of Flagg and Ada Purdy in "A Matter of Principle", a 1984 Emmy Award-winning American Playhouse adaptation of the story by John D. Weaver. Late the following decade, Weaver's agent sent director Neal Miller a collection of additional short stories, including one, 'Don't You Cry for Me', whose lead characters were used in developing a feature film. By then it was 2002 and the Arkins' 35-year marriage had dissolved yet both actors signed up for the project. Which is a boon for part of the success of the film is the lived-in naturalness of the bond between the two leads with both actors giving fine performances. If script-wise the diversity of their progeny seems a little over-developed yet with so many of them, each individually underdeveloped, the film has charm enough to carry the day.

 

 

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