Kelly and Cal

Posted September 12, 2014 by in


Total Score

4/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: romance, dramedy
Director: Jen McGowan
Actors: Juliette Lewis, Jonny Weston, Josh Hopkins
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: 9/12/2014
Studio: Spring Pictures Mad Dog Pictures
What We Thought

A quirky comedy and a touching, bittersweet romance.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Kelly and Cal is a quirky comedy and a touching, bittersweet romance about a relationship that cannot and should not be.  She is a 30-something married woman, new to motherhood, and he is a wheelchair-bound teenager.
     Their relationship is born of loneliness and isolation.  Kelly (Juliette Lewis) is alienated from everyone around her, such as a trio of snooty mothers at the local park, who blow her off when she tries to befriend them.   She’s not on speaking terms with her mother, and her husband, Josh (Josh Hopkins), prefers to watch junk-TV than be intimate with her, or even listen to her.  In comes Cal (Jonny Weston), who makes lewd comments at her on their first encounter.  He’s an obnoxious jerk, but he’s the only one that’s made any effort to talk to her.
     Kelly follows him to his house, where Cal broods alone in the garage, a hide-out filled with stolen traffic signs, broad symbols of his adolescent rebellion.  The two slowly get to know each other, despite Cal’s advances.  Cal is a lot like her husband, insensitive, but where Josh is oblivious of how hurtful his blunt comments are, Cal does it on purpose.  He’s hurting, so he hurts those around him, attempting to transfer his pain onto others.
     Beneath Cal’s exterior, however, lies a sensitive soul, wounded by early tragedy and personal betrayal.  Kelly visits him regularly.  He makes her feel young, pretty, and cool again—she was once in a rock band, and deep inside, she’s still a teenager.  She still dresses like one, and takes to dyeing her hair turquoise, alarming her in-laws, Bev (Cybill Shepherd), and Julie (Lucy Owen).
     Performance-wise, Juliette Lewis says it all without saying a word, the mark of a truly adept actress.  Her thoughts and feelings are written plain on her face, if anyone other than Cal would bother to notice.  Her Kelly suffers silently while those around her make snide remarks, the film’s take on I-know-you-didn’t cringe comedy.
     The film’s humor got a few chuckles out of me, but left me wanting more, bigger laughs, more often.  The story is touching, but not deeply so.  Nevertheless, the screenplay is a promising debut for scribe Amy Lowe Starbin, who demonstrates a talent for clear story structure, and an awareness of the morality—or lack thereof—of the forbidden romance between these characters.  Kelly and Cal is a story about two outsiders who find what they need, acceptance and friendship, in the wrong place.  That which feels right might not actually be right, not necessarily.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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