Day 2 at the GAFF: Pulling at heart strings with “Waiting for Forever”

There could have been puddles on the floor from all the sniffling I heard during the screening of “Waiting for Forever,” a film starring the always excellent Blythe Danner, Richard Jenkins, Rachel Bilson and the lesser well-known Tom Sturridge, who gives a break-out, winning performance as lead protagonist Will/Willy.

You’ve been warned: you will cry your eyes out, thanks to a heart-wrenching if not slightly heavy-handed screenplay by Steve Adams. Will / Willy is a wide-eyed, aimless young twentysomething who has returned home to confess his love to an estranged childhood friend. The friend is in town to take care of her ailing father. Using flashbacks (which resemble old home movies of their childhood), Will is stuck in the past whereas everyone else lives in the present.

And the present is full of hard-knocks. Rachel Bilson’s Emma is depressed and guilt-ridden because she cheated on her boyfriend with her bf’s best friend. Emma’s father (played by Richard Jenkins) is on the verge of death and begs his wife (played by Blythe Danner) to grieve. Jim is overworked as a husband, father and banker. Make no mistake; these characters are hard on themselves and each other.

Except Will. And that is what makes him so endearing. It’s easy to root for Will, which is no part due to the very likable Tom Sturridge. We want him to win the affections of Emma, who Bilson plays with empathy and complexity. The way this happens is an unpredictable, sweet, compelling journey that belongs on the Lifetime Channel alongside “The Notebook” (or any Nicholas Sparks book-to-film adaptation for that matter).

For those who enjoyed the GEN ART screening, you truly shared something special.

Author: JoannaRudolph

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