Rocker Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola) and his band are on the comeback trail when a former flame (Academy Award® nominee Elisabeth Shue) drops a bomb in his lap: their 13-year-old daughter, Janie Jones (Academy Award® nominee Abigail Breslin).
Ethan refuses to believe Janie is his kid, but when her mom suddenly leaves for rehab, the child has no place to go but into the tour bus and on the road with the band. With no feel for fatherhood, Ethan continues his hard-living ways, giving Janie a crash course of the not-so-glamorous life on the road.
As Ethan’s self-destructive spiral threatens the groups future, his band members desert him one by one, until he and Janie are left alone. Desperate to finish the tour and revive his career, Ethan stays on the road as a solo act with Janie in tow, where her surprising musical talents help guide him down the rocky road to redemption.
Nivola and Breslin naturally embrace their musical characters—both actually sing and perform in the film—while developing Ethan and Janie's relationship in a refined way to delicately express the emotional needs of the characters. Writer/director David M. Rosenthal, who was inspired by his own experiences, blends the musical setting with road trip movie elements that add subtle layers to the dynamic of his two main characters.
Director's Statement Collapse
Eleven years ago, I met my daughter for the first time. She was eleven. Many years before that, when I was an 18-year-old freshman in college, I had a one-night tryst with a woman of 26 while on a family vacation. Seven months later I got a call... she didn't think she could get pregnant, and she was having the baby. She told me that she struggled whether to tell me at all because she was keeping it secret from her family and friends but that she'd decided it was the right thing to do. She made it clear that not only did she not want anything from me but she would prefer it if I didn't try and contact her. My reaction was one of total shock. I said to her, "I'm not sure what you expect me to say? I'm not prepared for this at all and it seems like you've made up your mind." But when I said that she reiterated that she really didn't want anything from me and that, though she felt I had the right to know, that'd it would be better if I stayed away. At the time that seemed like a blessing, later it would seem more like a burden.
Terrified of the secret, as well as the responsibility, for years I told no one, save one close friend. I thought about this child constantly. I found out that the woman had married and had another child. Recurring dreams made their way into my work and eventually even into a short film while I was at AFI. Then, years later, after telling my family, I hunted down the woman's phone number and called.
After 11-some years, the mother had maintained the lie. Her family, her friends, even her husband were all told the same story of artificial insemination. The lie had weighed heavy on the mother, so that when I called there was almost a sense of relief in her voice. I told her that I didn't want to insinuate myself or disrupt her life in any way, that I wanted to start with a photograph or two and her name. Lucky for me, the timing was right and the mother made the decision to tell all of the people close to her the truth. In the meantime I received an envelope of pictures. Pictures of a beautiful little girl named Julia. They ranged the many years of her life, a cavalcade of moments, all lost to me. It was heartbreaking.
In few weeks I was on the phone with my daughter for the first time, then I was on plane, then I was standing in a middle school hallway waiting for a bell to ring. When it did the hall flooded with children, and there she was smiling at me, and then wrapping her little arms around me and since that moment I've been blessed to have an incredibly close relationship with someone who's both my daughter and my friend.
For many years I had wanted to make a film that explored that sort of unique father/daughter relationship, though until recently, I passed for lighter fare. However, like the relationship itself, the story needed to be unlocked.
Cast & Credits Collapse
Editor Alan Heim
Primary Cast Abigail Breslin, Alessandro Nivola, Elizabeth Shue, Peter Stormare, Frances Fisher, Brittany Snow
Screenwriter David M. Rosenthal
Producer Keith Kjarval, Eric Bassett
Director of Photography Anastas Michos
Production Designer Stephen Altman
Composer & Original Songs Eef Barzelay & Gemma Hayes (Original Songs)