Originally deemed a box office turkey, director Jodie Foster’s under-appreciated and queer-forward feast of holiday high jinx follows recently unemployed art restorer and single mom Claudia (Holly Hunter) home to Baltimore for the holidays. The familial chaos that ensues includes everything from bickering parents, a problematic type-A aunt, a teenage daughter on the brink of womanhood—and the official outing of Claudia’s (mostly) unapologetically gay brother, played with precise panache by a baby-faced Robert Downey Jr. Working from a script by W.D. Richter (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Foster’s second directorial effort maintains its infectious warmth and undeniable authenticity even throughout its many madcap mishaps. Featuring a terrific supporting ensemble of unsupportive characters including Hollywood stalwarts Anne Bancroft, Geraldine Chaplin, and Charles Durning, and up-and-comers Claire Danes (fresh off My So-Called Life) and Dylan McDermott.
Print courtesy of the Yale Film Study Center