Directed by: Gavin O’Connor
Written by:Gavin O’Connor, Angela Shelton
Starring: Janet McTeer, Jay O. Sanders, Kimberly Brown, Gavin O’Connor, Laurel Holloman
Released: September 7, 2000
Grade: A-

Mary Jo Walker (McTeer) is an effervescent mother with a 12-year old daughter, Ava (Shelton) - named after Hollywood legend Ava Gardner.  Mary’s been through four marriages and when things go bad, both her and Ava pack up there bags and travel somewhere else to create new start.

On Ava’s suggestion, they head off to San Diego, California to see the beach and find new opportunities.  Ava enrols in a local school and starts making friends from day one.  Mary makes her own friends when she finds a filing job to help pay the “bills that keep coming in”.  Things look even rosier when Mary meets and falls for Jack (O’Connor) and the three move in together.  However, given her past run of separations, is this romance going to be any different?

Delightfully told, Tumbleweeds will guarantee futures for most of its participants.  Gavin O’Connor has left his options open.  He co-wrote the screenplay, took on a major supporting role and was the film’s director - a lot of work!

From an acting perspective, Kimberly Brown has exploded onto the Hollywood scene with her portrayal as Ava.  Her Southern accent, mixed with classic facial expressions, gives her character an edge that makes her perfect opposite McTeer.  As for McTeer, what can be said?  Where has she come from?  Predominantly appearing in English films, Tumbleweeds earned her a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award nomination and several other film critics’ awards along the way.

Playing Mary, McTeer is more than just a zany mother - her exuberant exterior hides a troubled interior that is evident from the outset.  You always have a feeling where the film is going (especially after the introduction of workmate Dan) but there’s an instinct that tells you it may not all be so predictable and that’s a tribute to the acting abilities of the cast.

Mother-daughter bonding movies are becoming a common occurrence on film screens.  Anywhere But Here with Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman bears a striking resemblance to Tumbleweeds.  In the wash up, Tumbleweeds gets the nod from me for in essence, the richness of it characters.