"The Cloud Chamber"
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Joyce Maynard and Jeff Stockwell
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Score: Dario Marianelli
Nate – Freddie Highmore
Naomi – Charlie Ray
Momma – Jennifer Jason Leigh
Junie – Bailee Madison
Papa – Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Aunt Sal – Susan Sarandon
Larry – Josh Hutcherson
Tagline: "You can’t change the past, but you can change the future fast"
Synopsis: Nates family was going through hard times. Although his mother made enough money teaching piano to get by, his father, a farmer, seemed to have the worst luck in Montana. He told his whole family that that was going to change. He told them they would soon be richer than they had ever dreamt of. Nate sure does dream big for a 15 year-old, but he didn’t want to tell his father that. So, his dad borrowed a lot of money from an old friend of his, Sam Carter, who had struck it big with cattle. Poppa had to pay Sam back after the crop, and the hope poppa had made his family, even momma, feel happy. Than it happened. Not long after Nates dad had laid the seeds, a freak storm, with hailstones as big as baseballs pounded down so hard one dented the mercury. 15 minutes later, it was all over, but the damage was done. The family’s entire crop was pummeled. His entire crop was pummeled. After this, poppa spent most of his time sitting in his big saggy chair, just staring out the window. Seeing him that way, a sinking feeling came over Nate. Something awful was happening, and there was nothing he could do to make it stop.
A few weeks later, Nates sister Junie and him pulled up to their house on the school bus to a sight of police cruisers and an ambulance. Fearing the worst, yet feeling numb, Nate grabbed little Junie’s hand and pulled her from the bus. They walked swiftly towards the house. Their aunt Sal rushes towards them, but before she gets to them, Nate spots two police officers leading his father towards the ambulance. Blood is pouring down his face. Nate knew he had tried to take his own life. He had failed at that as well.
Home quickly became a very different place. Poppa was away, Junie spent most of her time in front of the television, Aunt Sal did almost all the work around the house, and momma had sort of gone inside herself. Junie and Nate both became social pariahs at school. People thought, because of our father, that a genetic mental disease ran in our family. An example of this was when Junie became very excited about her upcoming 7th birthday, and the party, which would come with it. Nate protests to no avail that Junie will only be hurt by the lack of guests who would come. Nates mother, her mind set on living in the past, refuses to listen and goes ahead with the party. Junie, oblivious to the true issues at hand, is brokenhearted when only one girl comes to the party she had been planning for weeks. Only the promise of winning the science fair was left for Nate and Junie.
Nate and his father had dreamed about building a cloud chamber for so long. A cloud chamber is a device that allows you to see the magnetic waves that come down from the stars, all the time, which are invisible o the naked eye. Nate couldn’t even remember when they had first gotten the crazy idea that it could work. A girl at school, that nobody talked too, became interested in Nates project. Even Nates best bud Larry was beginning to drift away from him, and conform. The girls name was Naomi. She and Nate set out to build this cloud chamber, amidst the threats of bankruptcy, death, and having to leave behind the home he loves. Nate and Junie hope that, by building this thing, they can give papa something to help him feel better, and finally come home.
What the Press would say:
“The Cloud Chamber” is an exquisitely shot, and profoundly moving film about a boy’s journey to help his father. No movie has ever captured the bond between a father and son as well as “The Cloud Chamber,” and when the two are together on screen you can feel the strained magnetic force between them. Freddie Highmore plays Nate, the protagonist and narrator in this beautiful piece. Mr. Highmore gives a heart wrenching, yet hopeful performance of a boy torn between what he wants, and what he needs. Between reality and imagination. Charlie Ray plays Naomi, the artistic, yet social awkward science fair partner to Jake. With unfounded radiance, Charlie shines in her biggest role since “Little Manhattan,” a trifle of a movie that showed nothing of the talent she possesses. She shows with utter grace just how far a person will go for their friends. Mrs. Ray is a capable young actress, who is willing to go out on a limb, and play a profoundly deep character. She is not at all afraid to break the audiences heart. It’s always good to see young actors shine with a light almost brighter than their co-stars. Jennifer Jason Leigh gives a beautiful performance as Nate and Junie’s tortured mother, who struggles between bankruptcy and keeping her children safe from the reality of what their father had tried to do, not only to himself, but also to her family. Jonathan Rhys Meyers also gives his best performance yet, as the man who cared so much about his family, that he didn’t want to make them suffer him anymore Rhys Meyers plays the character with grace, wit, and a kindred spirit that only a true master could summon. Director Sam Mendes crafts this beautiful movie into one of the most saddening, and hopeful movies you may ever see. “The Cloud Chamber” is an astonishing gem of a movie, with a mesmerizing score, and beautiful script. You have never seen anything like it.