Distributed by New Line Cinema
Director – Ryan Fleck
Original Screenplay – Ryan Fleck
Production Design – Richard Hoover
Cinematography – Rodrigo Prieto
Original Score – Gustavo Santaolalla
Dana Carlson – Rachel McAdams
Patrick Kowalski – Ryan Reynolds
Lori Carlson, Dana’s mother – Helen Hunt
Peter Carlson, Dana’s father – John C. Reilly
Paul Kowalski, Patrick’s father – Dustin Hoffman
Cathy Kowalski, Patrick’s mother – Sissy Spacek
Kristen Jones – Maggie Gyllenhall
Tagline: “Once you come, you never want to leave”
:::Lori::: “Dana, you need to get out of here and finish your degree. Why don’t you just leave Patrick and get out of Bismarck?”
:::Dana::: “I wish I could, mom. This place is like a black hole. I try, but I just can’t seem to get out of here.”
Synopsis: Dana Carlson (Rachel McAdams) turns 27 this year. She is the mother of Sam and Ella, 21 and 2 months old, respectively. She lives in a dumpy apartment with her fiancé, Patrick Kowalski (Ryan Reynolds), the father of her children, in their hometown of Bismarck, North Dakota, depending heavily on their families for financial support and child care. Patrick is a crystal meth addict, and therefore cannot hold a job to support his family. Their life is close to shambles.
In momentary flashbacks, Dana remembers her life before meeting Patrick. She was a graduate of a prestigious arts high school, attending the University of Minnesota to earn a biochemistry degree. She was on the path to financial and emotional success. Then she began dating Patrick, who charmed her with his charisma, but slowly dragged her down into habitual drug use – first marijuana, then cocaine, then crystal meth. She dropped out of school. Despite consistent efforts to leave, Dana could not escape her relationship with Patrick. He was abusive, lazy and demeaning. The family was soon forced to move home and live on Dana’s parent’s (Helen Hunt and John C. Reilly) charity. Then came an unexpected child. Then another. Patrick’s addiction grows much worse, affecting his temper and demeanor. She loves Patrick, yet yearns for a life of her own, out of Bismarck. She wonders what her life may have been without him. One night, in a drunken, high rage Patrick beats Dana.
Then one day in the mailbox there are plane tickets for Dana and her children to Seattle from Dana’s old friend Kristen (Maggie Gyllenhall)… Dana has a choice – leave the life she knows and start over on her own, or remain in Bismarck. The repercussions of her decision echo through her family as she stands at the brink of a life-changing decision.
What the press would say:
Rachel McAdams gives the performance of her career in “Bismarck.” Her heartbreaking portrayal of Dana Carlson is absolute perfection, capturing her essence perfectly. Within Ms. McAdams’ characterization, we see the intelligence and potential of Dana, yet completely understand her difficulty leaving her present situation. She is certainly in the running come awards season. Her role is heart-wrenching and meaty, giving plenty of scenes for her to show the raw emotion this character lives through. She also plays the “de-glam” card, putting on nearly 40 pounds for this role. (In the flashback scenes, however, we see the lovely Ms. McAdams we are accustomed to!)
The supporting cast is terrific. Ryan Reynolds makes us understand why Dana loves Patrick Kowalski despite his awful actions. He plays the character to its fullest potential, creating a completely believable character of a meth-addicted man stuck in the rut of his hometown. Helen Hunt has a beautiful performance as Dana’s mother, Lori. She shows true love and compassion for Dana while expressing her views that Dana needs to leave Patrick and start her life over. John C. Reilly is terrific as Dana’s hard-nosed father. Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek are lovely in small roles as Patrick’s parents who refuse to acknowledge Patrick’s drug addiction. Maggie Gyllenhall shines as Kristen in her few flashback scenes at college with Dana.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
Best Director: Ryan Fleck
Best Original Screenplay: Ryan Fleck
Best Actress: Rachel McAdams
Best Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt
Best Supporting Actor: Ryan Reynolds