Think of Me (Bryan Wizemann, 2011): USA

Reviewed by Alex Canzano. Viewed at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Think of Me is writer/director Bryan Wizemann’s portrait of a single mother trying to care for her child in current day Las Vegas, while struggling with poverty, and searching for ways to improve her situation in all the wrong places. The story begins with Angela (Lauren Ambrose) prowling in the darkness of a gaudy strip club in pursuit of some company for the night. The viewer’s initial impression is that she might possibly be a prostitute. The next morning her nine-year-old daughter Sunny (Audrey P. Scott) walks in the room and is confused to find her mother in bed with a stranger. This is the only sexual encounter Angela has in the film and we realize that she is not a prostitute. However, she does ask the man if she could have a hundred dollars to help her get by, to which he refuses and we start to see how desperate of a situation she is in.

Lauren Ambrose, also seen in the acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under, gives a phenomenal performance as Angela. The film catalogues all her mistakes and misdeeds but with the help of Ambrose’s excellent performance, the character succeeds in receiving the viewer’s sympathy and understanding. She makes some very poor decisions, even deplorable in some cases, but always with the intentions of improving the life of her and her daughter. Despite some of the more shameful acts committed by the character, she also searches for more noble solutions to her problems that fail to work merely due to bad circumstance.

She gathers up two thousand dollars of child support money from Sunny’s father when she is told of an investment opportunity from her boss but the money is presumably stolen while throwing Sunny a birthday party at their residence. After losing the money she is desperate to make up for her loss and takes on a second job at night as a custodian. She ends up cleaning the building that she currently works in during the daytime and when her boss decides to come in early one morning, he catches her mopping floors outside the office. The next day she tells him how she does not have the investment money and, along with the discovery that she is working a night-shift job, he fires her with a hundred dollar severance.

Her relationship with her daughter Sunny is loving but difficult. Sunny, despite living on her mother’s low income and deprived of some very basic comforts, is the happiest child you think you have ever seen- and she loves her mother, which I think is the point. Sunny is malnourished and is a slow reader for a girl her age. Her mother is forced to work two jobs and does not have the time to take care of her properly. When her mother is around to take care of her, she is often high on some kind of narcotic and often forgets little things such as, food on the stove.

The question the film leaves up to the audience is: Would Sunny be better off living with another family that can provide her a more comfortable lifestyle and offer her better opportunities? Can expensive clothes, toys, education, and big estates actually do any benefit in replacing the child’s biological mother who loves her more than anyone in the world and is willing to sacrifice anything to keep her happy? The viewers are all taking a stand. The film has received many mixed reviews and opinions concerning Angela’s role as a mother. In my opinion, I think Sunny could be stuck with a lot worse and by the end of the film I considered both of them lucky to have each other. Think of Me is certainly a large step for Bryan Wizemann, the young director, who appears to be well on his way to a promising career i filmmaking.

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