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The Independent Critic

Sally Kirkland, Burt Young
Flavio Alves
Flavio Alves, Scott Alexander Hess, Jeffrey Solomon
20 Mins.

 "Tom in America" Stars Oscar Nominees Burt Young and Sally Kirkland 
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It's almost impossible to not jump at the chance to check out a new film with Hollywood vets Burt Young and Sally Kirkland, Oscar nominees who aren't heard from nearly enough these days. Given the chance to shine, both absolutely do as a couple who've been married for 50 years and whose marriage has been guided throughout that time on one guiding principle - no secrets. When Tom (Young), a crotchety flea market vendor who spends his days digging through other people's trash, uncovers a doll fashioned after Tom of Finland's gay fetish art, the discovery triggers a long repressed side of Tom that results in a rapid unraveling of Tom and the long held trust between he and his wife.

A deeply thoughtful and emotionally resonant film that accomplishes a great amount, perhaps a bit too much, within the span of its 20-minute running time, Tom in America benefits greatly from two absolutely terrific performances from its co-leads. I have no idea if the character of Tom was written with Burt Young in mind, but his entire persona fits perfectly within both the Burt Young we think we know and Burt Young the talented actor. Young's Tom displays a heartbreaking sense of anguish wrapped inside loss, regret, denial, and reflection. It's a beautiful and touching performance. Sally Kirkland is tasked with a more challenging performance in more ways than one, yet she magnificently portrays the vulnerability and devastation of a woman who discovers she never really knew the man she's spent her last 50 years with in marriage.

It's arguable that Tom in America could have easily been a longer film or, maybe even more appropriately, a full-length film. There's so much that happens in such a short span of time that there's a couple moments where the film's emotional impact is a bit jarring. Yet, in reality, I'd imagine it would be the same for the characters experiencing this story unfolding.

Jordan T. Parrott's lensing is intimate yet seems to build a sense of distance as the story unfolds, while the music by Walter Schick and Jack Woodbridge companions the film to perfection. Tom in America had its world premiere at the Palm Beach International Film Festival and has already snagged several other key fest spots including Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival, and this week's Montreal World Film Festival. For more information on the film, visit the film's website.

Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic