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Skip 3 Backyards if you’ve got a headache—-unless you plan on sleeping through the film, which would be a more pleasant option than watching it. Overpowered by a high-pitched, atonal score and constantly interrupted by blurred-to-focused nature shots, writer-director Eric Mendelsohn’s film about suburbia is also steeped in what-the-fuckness, as in: What the fuck are these people doing?
There are three storylines here, with the weirdest of them all involving Peggy (Edie Falco), an artist and housewife whose life gets a boost of excitement when a well-known actress (Embeth Davidtz) moves into her neighborhood and asks her for a ride. Peggy’s over the moon about the favor. At least, that is, until her already puffy-eyed passenger gets visibly upset but won’t share what’s going on with her, which pisses Peggy off. (Maybe we’re too used to seeing Falco play smart characters to abide such a small-minded dolt.)
The other two plots focus on a little girl (Rachel Resheff) who misses her school bus because she’s trying on a charm bracelet that’s a gift for someone else (and then loses it) and a middle-aged businessman (Elias Koteas) who’s having trouble with his wife and decides to stay in a hotel rather than go home when his flight is canceled.
These setups are all normal; it’s what the characters do after the fact that will leave you scratching your head. What little dialogue there is is often unnecessarily prickly or just plain weird, and no one—-not even the little girl—-is terribly likable. And the intermittent assaults on your eyes and ears! Mendelsohn may believe he’s presenting an unvarnished look at middle-class America, but if these kinds of people exist, you won’t recognize them.