The Hamptons International Film Festival screened the US World Premiere for Louder Than Words, a moving and uplifting film starring David Duchovny, Hope Davis and Timothy Hutton directed by Anthony Fabian with an original screenplay by Benjamin Chapin. The cast was present to promote the film as was the Fareri family, whose life events shaped the poignant story of how a world renown children’s hospital in Westchester County came to be built despite the tremendous odds against it.
Daughter Maria Fareri (Olivia Steele-Falconer) is the glue that holds together the Fareri family: Dad, John (David Duchovny), mom, Brenda (Hope Davis), and siblings, Stephanie (Adelaide Kane), Michael (Ben Rosenfield) and Julie (Morgan Griffin). We are introduced to the family by Maria who narrates events and touches upon the family background indicating that before her birth, the family struggled until their Dad’s business began to flourish and he was able to network with politicians and others who helped him spur on his successful development, much to the chagrin of many in their community. When Maria introduces us to the family in the early part of the film, the struggles are over and theirs is a charmed, idyllic existence in the wooded suburbs where they are bathed in beauty, love and prosperity.
Dad is taciturn and forever consumed with his successful construction business. Mom, handling the interior design elements is involved in helping her husband with each of his successful ventures, and the siblings are involved with their activities. All are brought together by the chatterbox Maria who always brings love and good will to each and stems the tides of division that inherently threaten to undermine the family because each member tends to remain in their own sphere of influence. It is Maria who updates everyone on each other’s status and senses when a member is becoming distant, always bringing them back into the fold like a shepherd herding the sheep. She is a non-stop communicator and humorist, spreading her joy to everyone and generating hope and vitality.
That is, until Maria and her Dad have their own informal camp-out, an overnight of fun, sleeping under the twinklingl stars. But under the stars’ glittering beauty and the warmth and joy shared with her Dad, unbeknownst to both of them danger lurks. It is something so small and insignificant, neither of them is aware at the time, but the danger blossoms and creates the tragedy that changes each of the family members’ lives. The glue evaporates and the family is thrown into chaos, trauma and pain. All of the inherent divisions between and amongst the parents and kids once floating under the surface rise and split them apart. There is division at a time when comfort and communication are desperately needed. There is silence when chattering joy and hope would ease the pain. The glue is gone and it will never, ever come back.
Or will it? How John and Brenda Fareri and the family eventually come together and what brings them together is the essence of the rest of the film. Their story is an inspiring breath of fresh air in the polluted cultural landscape of political carping, misplaced logic, wasted inefficiency and lack of will by inept leadership who can barely get out of their own way, moving in the opposite direction of consensus and creative innovation. The film makes it clear that love and hope are eternal driving forces that create unity. These are the forces that shine the light toward projects that can benefit others in a domino effect. These are the foundation that enable others to create consensus and bring together a vital network of the most innovative and creative individuals. And once this is achieved this properly founded unity eventually may reach toward a global scale of good will, even though that might not have been the initial intention.
The director, screenwriter and entire cast are well aware of their responsibility to this family in recreating a vital story whose implications go much farther if one has the eyes to see and ears to hear the issues elucidated. They have done an excellent and masterful job with emphasizing how the little things, the gestures, the nuances that we take for granted in our lives are fleeting but must be remembered as important. The film’s homely themes, and additional themes of how consensus can be reached and the impossible done with will and effort are universal and timeless. The film suggests, not unrealistically, that with what seems so improbable it is only a matter of going and doing, taking the first step, then the next of a billion steps and more,
This movie, by film standards, is a small one. However, its message is as large as its heart and its meanings run deep. Sometimes big things have little beginnings. If you see the film, you’ll understand why.