SO B. IT – A Review by Cynthia Flores
Ok, I know this film has a funny title and the only actor you really recognize is Alfre Woodard or John Herd. However, after you see this movie, you will not soon forget it or the kid that’s at the center of this wonderful new film.
So B. It is the story of Heidi It (Talitha Bateman) a twelve-year-old girl that lives with her mentally disabled mother, whose name she really does not know but will later find out is Sophia (Jessie Collins). Heidi was born lucky, literally. When it comes to games of chance she is very lucky. Since she grew up in Reno, we see her dress up to look older and play to win at the slot machines when they need extra cash. Her agoraphobic next-door neighbor, Bernadette (Alfre Woodard), tells Heidi the story of how she first met them and why she doesn’t know her mother's name either, but calls her by her nickname “So B. It”. As the story goes, So B. It just appeared at Bernadette’s front door holding newly born Heidi. Bernadette continues the story saying she couldn’t get them to stay with her and watched from her doorway as they went into their new apartment right next door. She was worried for the young panicked mother who seemed to be all alone and could hear the baby crying on the other side of her walls. Because of her agoraphobia she couldn’t leave to knock on her new neighbors front door so instead she found a weak spot in the wall in her closet and broke through to help with the crying infant. From that point they have lived as a family of sorts with the opening between the two apartments kept open.
Everything is fine until Heidi finds a roll of undeveloped film and sends it off to be processed. With pictures in hand of her mother at another house looking very pregnant she shows them to her mom. Her mother can’t answer any questions about her family or origin because she only has a 23-word vocabulary which, when shown the pictures, now includes the word “soof”. Heidi now assumes this holds some important meaning and longs to uncover it. Heidi needs to know her background and knows her last name is not just “It”. In one of the pictures, Heidi finds an address for the home that says it is in Liberty, New York, on the wall behind her mother. She’s able to look up the residence and calls and calls trying to speak with the owner, a Mr. Thurman (John Heard), but both she and Bernadette are just put on hold forever. That’s when Heidi, without permission dresses up to win money at the slots and gets a bus ticket to find the home in the pictures and get information from Mr. Thurman in person.
Heidi goes thru a lot on that long trip by herself. She knows she’s too young to travel unaccompanied by an adult, so she pretends to be with Miss Alice Wilinsky (Cloris Leachman), a nice, little, old, lady traveling with kittens to a family reunion. During the trip they bond, but once Alice finds out Heidi is lying about herself, She separates herself from the child. I do not want to tell you the film scene to scene, but I will say Heidi goes though a lot emotionally and physically to finally make it to Mr. Thurman.
Once there she finds out that it's an assisted living residence for people who are mentally challenged. She meets an older male resident that sees her and immediately calls her “Soph” because she looks just like her mother. This is when she meets nurse Ruby Franklin (Jacinda Barrett) and is told by Mr. Thurman that he does not know what she’s talking about. The police are called and Heidi runs but is caught by officer Roy Franklin (Dash Mihok) who is Ruby’s husband. They take Heidi in to their home for dinner while they try and sort out what’s going on.
Heidi calls home to let Bernadette and her mother know she’s alright but finds out her mother has gotten sick with worry over missing Heidi.
The rest of the film deals with Heidi as she must face loss and considers the nature of truth and identity, whether it’s always knowable or even if it’s always worth knowing. She also has to come to terms with the love that makes up a family’s bond.
So B. It is a great movie that you will not want to miss. It’s nicely shot, and tenderly directed. Also, this is a breakout role for young Talitha Bateman as Heidi, whose charisma on screen reminded me of a young Jodie Foster, yes she’s that good. Then there’s Alfre Woodard’s performance as Bernadette, who loves Heidi enough to let her grow and possibly leave her behind. I can see both actresses getting attention for these great performances come Oscar time. I will warn you now, TAKE A BOX OF TISSUES with you when you go to the theaters to see this film, but most importantly, just go! You won’t regret it.
Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal
Written By Sarah Weeks (Novel), Garry Williams
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 1hr 38min
Limited Release Oct. 13th Angelika Dallas, The Cinemark Legacy 24 in Plano, Hulen Movie Tavern in Fort Worth
Starring: Talitha Bateman, Alfre Woodard, Jessie Collins, John Herd, Jacinda Barrett, Dash Mihok, Cloris Leachman
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.