As I mentioned quickly yesterday, I was able to see an online premier of the movie Mighty Fine last night. Here is a short description of the story from the writer and director Debbie Goodstein:
The story of "Mighty Fine" is fictional, but it draws to a great extent on writer/director Debbie Goodstein's vivid memories of her childhood. "My father had anger issues, ups and downs, and living in his world could be a bit of a rollercoaster ride," says Goodstein. "He loved his family but had self-destructive impulses and a rage that made life with him unpredictable and sometimes very scary." Many of Goodstein's friends also had fathers similar to her own, and she contrived the character of Joe Fine as a composite. Goodstein sees Joe as a creature of his time, someone who couldn't exist today: "Joe Fine is the king of his castle, like so many men of the seventies. But even then, things were changing rapidly, and men like Joe, with all their bravado and patriarchal dominance, were poised for extinction. Today, with so many women in the workplace, that castle has become more of a stronghold of equanimity."
A good story, and a good movie more specifically, sticks with you long after the credits. Mighty Fine is such a story. The mother and two daughters are held hostage to the mood swings of the father played by Chazz Palminteri. One moment he is a doting father and husband lavishly spoiling his children and the next moment he is brandishing a shotgun. His unpredictability adds all the suspense this movie needs.
What sticks with me most, is that in this movie Debbie Goodstein is able to show us that the father, Joseph Fine, is not one dimensional. We know that financial difficulties and his own childhood are major factors in his deteriorating mental state. This insider knowledge makes it difficult to vilify Joseph and adds shades of grey to the film.
All of the actors gave wonderful performances. Andie MacDowell, as the mother and a holocaust survivor, plays a women who was rescued by her husband and therefore is deeply indebted to him. At the same time she has two teen daughters who need her strength. It is wonderful to see while Stella is bent by her wartime past, she is not broken.
The two teen daughters are played by Rainey Qualley, who played the older and most outspoken family member Maddie; and Natalie the writer played by Jodelle Ferland.
As a parent, this movie was a stark reminder of how harmful unpredictability and uncontrolled anger can be toward children of any age. While I am not much like Joe, I will certainly think of him often when I am tempted to lose my temper. Mighty Fine shows that most of the time, when parents are angry and take it out on their children, it's not because of anything the child may have done, but is due to outside factors.
The movie is opening up in select theaters on May 25th. You can see if it is playing by you here.
I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mighty Fine and the distributor. I received access to an online showing of the film and a promotional item to thank me for participating.