What Matters Most (DVD Review)30 Nov, 2008 By: Anne Sherber
Stars Chad Allen, Marshall Teague, Polly Cusumano, Tamara Clatterbuck, Kimberly Bigsby, Robert Boyd.
There’s something about the barren, monochromatic, west Texas landscape that inspires filmmakers. A recent entry into a category that includes The Last Picture Show, Giant, Blood Simple and Tender Mercies, among many, is What Matters Most, which, not coincidentally, touches on some of the themes that are laced through many Texas-set films: classism, teenagers in love and unexpected pregnancy.
When a high-school basketball star falls for a girl, his family, pillars of the community, strongly object to the pairing. The boy reluctantly agrees to stop seeing her, but the two can’t stay apart, and she gets pregnant. The night they plan to run away to get married, he has an accident that leaves him in a coma for months.
What Matters Most treads very familiar territory, but what distinguishes it is the strength of the performances. Both Allen and Boyd, with faces familiar from television, find the humanity and nuance in what might have been cardboard-cutout characters. Boyd in particular, as the father whose hopes and dreams for his son blind him to his son’s hopes and dreams for himself, is explosive and magnetic.
While it is true that What Matters Most forges no new cinematic ground, it does find new ways to look at the familiar landscape. It is a solid and satisfying family drama that will appeal to viewers looking for something engaging.