If you are in need of some comforting family drama to snuggle up to as winter sets in then look no further.
If you are
in need of some comforting family drama to snuggle up to as winter sets in then
look no further. Writer/director
Jonathan Newman brings us Foster as the cinematic version of his award-winning
2005 short story, reworking it in to a touching fable.
Married childhood sweethearts Zooey (Toni Collette) and Alec (Ioan
Gruffudd) live in a townhouse in a scenic part of central London, but their
lives are no longer what they used to be.
The couple are struggling to communicate due to financial problems,
difficulty in conceiving a child and the suggestion of past issues surrounding
an ‘accident’ and a permanently closed door in their home. After spotting a leaflet in the
doctor’s office they decide to foster a child. On their visit to the children’s home they come across 7
year old Eli (Maurice Cole), who
consequently turns up at their front door complete with hat and suitcase,
claiming the foster company has sent him.
As Zooey and Alec try to adjust to life with their new son alongside
their financial worries, it becomes clear that little Eli is not all he seems.
Foster has a nice, even mix of several genres. A fairy tale quality runs through the
film: Zooey and Alec work as a
children’s book shop owner and toy maker respectively and there is magical
twist towards the end that you feel is imminent as the film moves on. The plot drifts repeatedly between
heartfelt, dramatic moments and amusing comedy. Although it can be slow paced at times which may mean it is
a little harder to keep the kids engaged, the essence of the fairy tale, the
quirky comedy and a fun trip to Legoland about halfway through make up for
Foster has a strong cast of well-known, talented actors which
makes it all the more engaging. Gruffudd
and Collette make a very believable couple, full of warmth and
likeability. After roles in films like Little Miss Sunshine and The Sixth Sense (for which she received
an Oscar nomination), it could be argued that Collette is ‘dumbing down’ in her
role in Foster. However she is
such a versatile and watchable actress that it is actually lovely to see her in a sweet family film like this one – and doing
a pretty decent delivery of a Scottish accent. Little Maurice Cole
is outstanding – and utterly adorable in his first ever acting role. You would be right to expect great
things from him in the future. His
character Eli has all the ‘Milky bar kid’ cuteness of any teeny boy with
glasses. He is like an adult in
miniature, sporting a crisp suit and fedora hat, adept at cooking and enjoying
nothing more than watching the news with a cup of tea. We are also treated to cameos from Anne Reid and the timeless Hayley Mills, with Richard E. Grant making an appearance as gentlemanly hobo, Mr
Potts, who resides in the local park and seems to have a strange bond with
Eli. Grant is no stranger to a
family drama after roles in films like Jack
and Sarah and seasonal television adaptations and is equally wonderful in this role.
Foster may have a few ‘hide behind a cushion’ cheesy moments,
but it is good old-fashioned, therapeutic family entertainment. Now that Halloween is over, grab this
one as a pre-Christmas family treat.