Three pre-teen friends put themselves in the midst of life-altering crises in this insightful and unsettling drama. In a riveting performance that says "Dakota Fanning, watch your back," Zoe Weizenbaum plays the hyperintelligent and sexually precocious daughter of a psychotherapist who begins spying on a patient, a gentle construction worker, in hopes of initiating an affair.
Conor Donovan sensitively plays a bereaved twin planning revenge on the young hooligans who accidentally killed his brother. As a boy who takes drastic action to save his morbidly obese mother's life, Jesse Camacho is both tough and touching. Director Michael Cuesta demonstrated a fine feel for kids in trouble with his powerful debut, "L.I.E.," about a teenager's complex relationship with a pedophile. The stories coexist without intersecting, and the film would benefit from a stronger narrative spine, but bringing together three such gifted young actors in a single film is a minor miracle.
*** out of four stars
Rating: R, for violence and sexual content involving minors, and for language.