Spring Forward

A deeply felt, unsentimental portrait of the growing friendship between two men over the course of 7 months, Spring Forward gives us Murphy (Ned Beatty), a soon-to-retire Connecticut city parks maintenance man who takes on as a partner Paul (Liev Schreiber), a talkative young ex-con new to the job. The story is told in half a dozen vignettes, each at a different time of the year, as we watch these men get to know each other, interact with assorted lost souls (including familiar faces like Campbell Scott and Peri Gilpin in small but rich roles), and quietly enjoy the serenity of the parks that surround them.

It's simple, it's graceful, it's extremely well-acted by its leads (what a joy to see Beatty get a chance to sink his teeth into a character again; most of today's audiences have forgotten that he was one of the 1970s' finest actors, with outstanding performances in Nashville, Deliverance, and Network), it's completely worth your time.

Despite all the chatter - much of it quite funny - Spring Forward never feels stage-bound or self-indulgent. It remains, above all, a film more about listening than about talking. A lovely experience, and proof that the soul of American independent cinema is alive and well.