VOD film review: The Bachelors
Simmons and Delpy7
Matthew Turner | On 30, Mar 2018
Director: Kurt Voelker
Cast: J.K. Simmons, Josh Wiggins, Julie Delpy, Odeya Rush, Kevin Dunn, Kimberly Crandall, Harold Perrineau
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Written and directed by Kurt Voelker, The Bachelors stars J.K. Simmons as maths teacher Bill Palet, who’s devastated by the unexpected death of his wife (Kimberly Crandall, in flashbacks) from terminal illness, after 33 years of marriage. Unable to move on, Bill abruptly relocates from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area with his teenage son, Wes (Josh Wiggins), where they both begin attending an all-boys prep school – Bill as a teacher and Wes as a student.
Although he’s outwardly functional, Bill continues to sink into depression, despite the best efforts of both his therapist (Harold Perrineau) and kindly French teacher Carine (Julie Delpy). Meanwhile, Wes develops a tentative relationship with bussed-in-from-nearby-girls-school study partner Lacy (Odeya Rush), who has problems of her own.
It’s always a treat to see beloved character actors handed plum lead roles and that’s very much the case here, with Simmons delivering a thoughtful, lived-in performance that’s extremely moving. Delpy is very funny as Carine and she generates charming chemistry with him.
The younger actors are equally good. Rising star Rush makes a strong impression as Lacy, while Wiggins has an appealing, fresh-faced quality that works well, investing their burgeoning relationship with a genuine sweetness.
At heart, this is a simple story about the debilitating nature of grief and the difficulty of recovery, offering notes of hope in the forging of new relationships and the healing nature of love and compassion. As such, the plot is surprisingly low-key, eschewing big dramatic scenes in favour of quieter moments. However, this approach backfires slightly, because it means the film stops short of making some potentially interesting points about medication and depression.
On top of that, the film is occasionally let down by some jarringly over-written dialogue that feels just a little off, as if it was originally inserted as place-holder material that would be fixed later and then wasn’t. That said, it should be stressed that that’s by no means the case for every scene and there are still plenty of lovely moments, from Julie Delpy doing some surprisingly good fish impressions in a restaurant to Wiggins bonding with his two new school friends (Tyrel Jackson Williams and Jae Head, an amusing double-act) over his uselessness at cross-country running.
The result achieves a sort of low-rent quirkiness that could have been irritating but is ultimately rather endearing, as illustrated by the central metaphor of the backwards-facing passenger seat that Lacy finds for Wes’ new car. In the end, what the film lacks in dramatic incident, it makes up for with heartfelt emotion, and the central quartet of charming performances ensure that it’s worth your while.
The Bachelors is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of a £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription.