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Tumbleweeds

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PG-13
2000

Tumbleweeds is a heartwarming coming-of-age story that revolves around 13-year-old, Ava (Kimberly J. Brown), and her free-spirited mother, Mary Jo Walker (Janet McTeer). As Mary Jo hops from one failed relationship to another, she takes Ava along with her in pursuit of new beginnings. The film opens with Mary Jo and Ava packing their bags and hitting the road with a fresh start in mind. They’re leaving behind Mary Jo’s boyfriend, Jack (Jay O. Sanders), who becomes the film’s secondary character. From the very beginning, Ava is seen to be a responsible and caring daughter who is often forced to take on the role of the parent in the relationship. Conversely, her mother is impulsive and unreliable but has a heart of gold. The film is set in the late 80s when the world was still subject to traditional gender roles and societal norms. Mary Jo, however, defies all such conventions and lives on her own terms. This leaves Ava in a constant state of insecurity, always wondering where they will end up next. As they travel across the country, Mary Jo takes on different jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes she works as a waitress, and at other times she becomes a hairdresser. Despite Mary Jo’s constant search for adventure, she always maintains an unconscious interest in finding a stable and meaningful relationship with a man. As they travel from one town to another, Ava befriends some locals but is also forced to leave behind any relationships she forms. The film beautifully showcases the relationship between Mary Jo and Ava primarily through Ava’s eyes. As Mary Jo gets involved in relationships with different men, Ava witnesses firsthand their toxic behavior. In one instance, when Mary Jo’s boyfriend, Jack, is drunk and tries to start a fight in a diner, it is Ava who comes to her mother’s rescue. Mary Jo slowly begins to realize the burden that comes with being a parent, and tries to change her ways. But, as she eventually starts dating a man named Dan (Gavin O'Connor), Ava starts to feel insecure and jealous, worrying that her mother might want to settle down for good. And, while the relationship between Mary Jo and Dan seems to be going well, Ava is hesitant to accept him as a part of their family. The film culminates with Mary Jo’s realization about her connection with Ava and the importance of their relationship. In a turning point, Mary Jo is compelled to make the difficult choice between her love life and her daughter’s happiness. The movie is a refreshing take on the mother-daughter relationship much before this subject became a significant topic in pop culture. Tumbleweeds, primarily focuses on the mother's growth as a parent and how, despite her flaws, she still seizes hold of every opportunity to bond with her daughter. Janet McTeer’s portrayal of Mary Jo is commendable. She's highly relatable and succeeds in humanizing a character who, on the surface, seems to be impulsive and irresponsible. Kimberly J. Brown, on the other hand, is a revelation as Ava. Her nuanced performance sees her internalizing Ava's complex feelings, evolving from being annoyed at Mary Jo's constant efforts to form new relationships to yearning for one of her own. Director Gavin O'Connor doesn't shy away from portraying the complexity of mother-daughter relationships and does not resolve conflicts in black-and-white. Instead, he showcases how these conflicts evolve over time, and how relationships can have a long-lasting impact. All in all, Tumbleweeds is a classic mother-daughter story that deserves attention. Its themes of personal growth, familial responsibilities, and emotional connections are as relevant today as they were over two decades ago. The film is a must-watch for anyone who loves a good coming-of-age story.

Tumbleweeds is a Comedy, Drama movie released in 2000. It has a runtime of 102. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.7. It also holds a MetaScore of 75.

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6.7/10
75/100
Director
DVD cover Tumbleweeds is a 1999 American drama film directed by Gavin O'Connor, who co-wrote the screenplay with his then-wife Angela Shelton, who was inspired by her memories of a childhood spent on the road with her serial-marrying mother.
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