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Culture Movies

Mystery on the block

Rachel Brosnahan (Screen Media Films)

Movie

Mystery on the block

Change in the Air muses on themes of grief and hope, but leaves unanswered questions

Change in the Air couldn’t possibly be more different from the shows on which Rachel Brosnahan last gave two unforgettable performances, House of Cards and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Here, Brosnahan portrays Wren Miller, a mysterious, angel-like character who intrigues the nosy neighbors on her new block with her mounds of mail and eerie omniscience. The more other characters try to figure Wren out, the more they reveal about their own personal tragedies. But the character of Wren is one-dimensional and doesn’t actually interact with others on the block very much: Unfortunately for viewers, Brosnahan gets to show more range in a single scene of House of Cards than she does in this entire movie.

Grief and hope—represented by obvious symbols like a coffin and a rare bird—permeate the film as the neighbors’ dark secrets and disappointments, like addiction and its effect on one family, slowly surface. Elderly characters fight the inevitable march of time, and for some of them, memory loss threatens to erase sad and happy memories alike. The neighbors desperately want to understand Wren. It’s clear she doesn’t want them to, preferring to be left alone during the day to conduct her mysterious business. We never really learn why.

But the script muses on these themes without ever making a clear point about them, leaving the viewer to wonder how anyone offscreen might set their own burdens free without the help of a character like Wren. As Variety put it, “It’s clear the filmmakers are aiming for the faith-based market. However, the film has about as much resonance as a ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker.”

Somewhat inspirational and squeaky clean, the film leaves plenty of unanswered questions, both in plot (why is Wren always running from police?) and casting (why on earth did Macy Gray and Olympia Dukakis agree to be in this project?).

Change in the Air may be different enough to warrant brief notice, but I’d be shocked if it got any attention at the award shows this winter.