Like Dandelion Dust is a film based on a Karen Kingsbury novel. It is a harrowing tale about an adoptive couple's worst nightmare. This occurs when the birth parents try to take back their child from the couple who is raising him. This movie explores that situation in depth and the drama is highlighted by superb performances by Barry Pepper and Mira Sorvino.
Jack and Molly Campbell (Cole Hauser and Kate Levering) have had their adopted son Joey (Maxwell Perry Cotton) since he was a tiny infant. He is now seven years old and is a happy, well adjusted child. His birth mother Wendy (Sorvino) is married to Rip Porter (Pepper) who has been in jail for seven years, and is now being released.
Rip had not known Wendy was pregnant and that she had a child. When he finds out, he wants the boy back and goes to court to force the issue. This sets up the battle between the birth parents and the adoptive parents, with Joey being caught in the middle.
This is not a black and white movie. There are "rights" on both sides of the law. Audiences can identify with the parents who gave up their child as well as with the adoptive parents who have raised the boy all his life. Both sets of parents love him but only one set can have him.
Barry Pepper is amazing in his role of Rip. He captures the essence of a man who has had the odds stacked against him and now feels his son holds his key to redemption. Rip can be totally unlikable at times but Pepper gives him a heart that emerges between battles. As his wife Sorvino underplays Wendy's torment and makes her a victim on the way to being heroic.
Hauser and Levering have the "good guy" roles but they manage to give them personalities that are complex. This couple doesn't always do the right thing but they too are only trying to do what is best for their son. As Joey, Cotton is wise beyond his years in conveying the despair the "child in the middle" feels.
The plot could easily have been reduced to a tearjerker but director Jon Gunn avoids that for the most part. Any emotional impact the film has arises from the basic structure of the plot. Nothing is played for the maudlin aspect and there are no cheap tricks to get to the audiences emotions.
The film is rated PG-13 for violence.
Audiences will enjoy the strength of the film's story and they will marvel at the high caliber of the lead performances. This is a movie that touches the heart but also puts the audience in the position of asking -- what would I have done?
Like Dandelion Dust is a movie that will upset you but it will also enlighten you. It is a movie with a plot that can not be ignored.
I scored Like Dandelion Dust a blown away 7 out of 10.