There is something magical about The Odd Life of Timothy Green. But not, unfortunately, magical enough.
For a fable like this to work, you need a vision sharp enough, created with enough heart and wit, to brush aside complaints about its fantastic plot -- fantastic in the sense of being rooted in fantasy, while maintaining a realistic setting.
We're not talking Grimm or Once Upon a Time or any of the other silly, fairy-tale-based TV shows that seem to be the rage at the moment. Rather, in Timothy Green, writer-director Peter Hedges is trying something a little trickier -- something more delicate.
Framed as a flashback, Timothy Green is the story of Jim and Cindy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner), who live in a dying industrial town whose central economy driver is the local pencil factory, where Jim works. For good measure, there's a drought going on as well.
At the film's start, Jim and Cindy get some terrible news: After years of trying everything, they are told that, in fact, they will never be able to produce a baby of their own. Rather than mourn, they get drunk and start imagining the kid they would have had, writing each of his awesome attributes on a piece of paper, then putting the slips into a wooden box, which they bury (or plant) in their garden, along with their dreams, apparently.
Overnight, however, something odd happens: There's a rainstorm localized specifically over their house and garden. And something crawls out of the earth. In the morning, they discover muddy footprints leading to what would have been the baby's room -- and, inside, a mud-covered 10-year-old who announces that his name is Timothy and that he is theirs.
Oh, and one more thing: He has small leafy vines growing out of his calves.
This review continues on my website.