Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joshua Jackson, Juliette Lewis, Donald Sutherland, Louise Fletcher, Steven Pasquale, Katie Griffin, Zack Ward, Tyler Labine, Mark Andrada, Jim Feather, Judy Sinclair, Welcome Ngozi, John Kapelos, Dorion Davis, Diego Fuentes, Timm Sharp, Joyce Campion, Bryan Hatt, Niamh Wilson, Tatum Knight, Krista Bridges, Hardee T. Lineham, George Cassey
Written by: Brent Boyd
Directed by: James Burke
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 110
Date: 04/22/2005

Aurora Borealis (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Bright Lights Shine

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

What looks like a goopy, disease-of-the-week movie about Alzheimer's turns out to be a surprisingly well crafted, beautifully acted movie about a handful of interesting characters. Duncan Shorter (Joshua Jackson) lives in Minneapolis with the same friends he's had since childhood. Duncan is stuck in a rut, unable to get beyond the fact that his father died when he was in his early teens. Though he burns through jobs like cigarettes, he manages to land one as a handyman in the apartment building where his grandmother (Louise Fletcher) and grandfather (Donald Sutherland) live. A cute nurse, Kate (Juliette Lewis), stops by and they hit it off. She is well-traveled, and willing to pick up at a moment's notice and re-locate, whereas it's much harder for Duncan. Worse, Duncan's grandfather is showing signs of Alzheimer's and needs looking after. James Burke presents these problems in a matter-of-fact way, without emphasizing histrionics or misery. Aurora Borealis has a relaxing quality, comfortable in its own rhythms and unwilling to settle for routine solutions. Though partly shot in Canada, the film also uses Minneapolis as a real character; Kate moves there to be near the birthplace of the Replacements and Paul Westerberg. (Note: a Westerberg "cameo" in the film isn't really him.)

DVD Details: The DVD from Regent Releasing, Liberation Entertainment and Genius Entertainment includes a commentary track, interviews and an isolated music track. The DVD box boasts an "amazing soundtrack featuring music by Bob Dylan and Paul Westerberg," but Dylan's one song comes during the opening credits ("Everything Is Broken") and Westerberg's one song comes during the closing credits ("Lookin' Up In Heaven").

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