Wednesday 7 November 2012


Watching Foster on DVD has led me to question how cynical I should be about a film that claims on its cover to be "a feel good family fairy tale" and certainly is that, but nothing more. It's not what I'd readily describe as a good film, but when a film is aimed at an audience who are looking for an emotional connection to a story rather than storytelling ability, who am I to begrudge them of that?

Starring newcomer Maurice Cole, Foster tells the story of a couple (Toni Collette and Ioan Gruffudd) who have suffered some recent heartbreak and who now want to fill that void by adopting a child. Into their lives walks Eli, a curious little chap who dresses like a city banker, talks like a grown up and who may be the answer to all of their problems.Toni Collette has reached into her big bag of accents and pulled out a Scottish one, despite the film being set in London and featuring no other Scottish characters, and Ioan Gruffud plays Alec, the owner of a toy factory that's been hit by THE RECESSION, and may face closure unless a miracle comes along. In spite of them being two perfectly normal, well educated adults, they barely question the logic of Eli literally turning up on their doorstep with his adoption papers, looking like he's walked off the set of Young Apprentice. 

I suppose I can blame it on the spate of recent horrors that start from a similar point, but I've become so used to not trusting any child that suddenly enters the story dressed like an old person that for the first half hour I genuinely couldn't tell which direction the film was going to take, especially when the lady who has organised the speedy adoption suffers "an unfortunate accident" and is therefore unable to provide any further explanation. Although those early scenes tread very close to Orphan/Case 39 territory, in actual fact Foster more closely resembles an alternate universe version of Problem Child where the little ginger munchkin is so angelic that you feel like you might take his hat off him, throw up in it and put it back on his head again.

When the story reaches Christmas time and the makeshift family decides to look kindly on Richard E. Grant's mystical tramp who lives in the local park, that was the point in which my cynicism firmly grasped hold of me, gave me a good shake and made me see Foster for what is really is; a film designed to appeal to Grandmas and the kind of people who wouldn't think twice about crossing the road to pinch a cute little ginger boy on the cheek.

It's a film with quite a few unintentional comic moments (such as when Ioan Gruffud's Alec reveals he has always dreamed of going to Legoland and even has a poster on his wall), but the one that made me spontaneously guffaw was the final, reveal all montage that steals from The Usual Suspects with surprising blatancy. Of course, having starred in Sixth Sense, Toni Collette is no stranger to an unanticipated ending, but Foster blindsided me with quite how schmaltzy it actually was, causing me to laugh out loud; which probably means that I'm dead inside and will never know the meaning of true happiness. Either that or this film really wasn't aimed at me.

Foster is available on DVD now.

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