Heroes of Arvine Place (2013) – By Kirsten Walsh

“The Heroes of Arvine Place” was screened on Saturday at the Family Fare Showcase for the Alexandria Film Festival. During the holidays, a recent widower and struggling children’s book author makes one last push for his career while trying to take care of his two little girls.

One man’s struggle to find his rightful place among great children’s writers while barely keeping his head above water. Take out the children’s writers part and it could be anyone, anywhere- a reality for hundreds of people in the United States today. An extremely relateable film, Damien Lahey’s venture into the family friendly genre succeeds as a modern day family experience. There are a few adult words of choice, but aside from that, my 4 year old second cousin could watch this and enjoy it just as much as I did.

Shot entirely in Jacksonville, Florida, it is an interesting concept for a holiday film. No snow, people in short sleeves, and palm trees with snowman decorations sitting in front of them. But Lahey gives the film what people need for the holidays- the feeling of family. Kevin, played by an enigmatic Cullen Moss, fights for his dreams while trying to keep his fractured family together, and does it with such obligation that you really wonder why he keeps trying. But towards the end of the film, in his conversation with his brother (played by Warren Skeels), the unconditional love factor starts to be evident. He truly shows that forgiveness is the key, as he helps his sister who has some personal mental issues, he tries to get his distant brother to be a part of the family for their annual holiday party, and he tries to help his other sister mend the broken relationship with the other sister. All while trying to win a children’s book competition!

With Kevin working diligently on his book, he has to balance his two bouncy daughters, and they aide in moving the plot along quickly. The scenery is beautiful and highlights many of Jacksonville’s unique locations, adding to the overall production value of the film.

The film has a realistic approach and feel to it, while also maintain a casual tone, and looks like a high budget independent film. A mixture of artistic cartons littered throughout the film remind the audience that it is ultimately a family friendly vision, which leaves the audience with that happy- go- lucky feeling at the end.

While attending the screening of this film at the Alexandria Film Festival, one viewer pointed out that ultimately Kevin was left with a “Family of Choice”, and for many people, that is so true, once again pointing out the realism in Lahey’s directing and writing. Excellent film, excellent screening!