Brightwood (2012) – By Misty Layne

Maybe you’re lucky enough to remember what it was like to be a child – the magic the world can hold, the joy of having your own special place that no one knows about. Brightwood, by Lautaro Gabriel Gonda, is a film about the magic of childhood especially when childhood is tainted by far too many adult problems and the knowledge that the world can be a not so wonderful place.

Sparrow, age 10, wakes up one morning to find baby mice (adorable baby mice!) nesting in her sock drawer. After setting on a teakettle, she collects the mice in a cigar box (ah the ever wonderful cigar box that can be so many things!) and heads out on her bike. Nothing much seems amiss here except for maybe the fact that no one else in the house is stirring but hey, it’s probably early and kids are notorious for being early risers. Sparrow makes a few stops along the way to a hidden cove of books, a bus that’s being used as a home and finally comes to her home away from home, an abandoned cottage in the middle of the woods. The cottage is old and dusty and magical to her. She sets up a nice table for herself and the mice only to go into a fit of rage, smashing the plates and destroying her handiwork. Uh-oh. Sparrow abandons the mice and heads back out on her bike. When she arrives home, she faces a scenario that no child should ever have to face – her parents shooting up in the kitchen.

Sparrow handles this situation with aplomb but also as a child would. The young actress playing Sparrow is devastating in her portrayal of one teetering between childhood and adulthood. No wonder she smashed her table.

Beautifully shot with lots of light and colors and whimsy, Brightwood is a melancholy look at childhood. To learn more about Brightwood and Lautaro Gabriel Gonda, drop by the website here.