Two things sneaked past my defenses against what I snarkily call the disability-of-the-week Oscar-bait picture. The first is that Mark, played by John Hawkes, is almost never seen at anything but a 90-degree angle, sometimes in his iron lung, sometimes on a rolling stretcher — never sitting up. That sidelong vantage creates a kind of distance and keeps the pathos from being in your face. The second is, he’s so funny.
Hawkes bears little resemblance here to the meth-fueled uncle he played in Winter’s Bone or the Manson-like cult leader in the film Martha Marcy May Marlene. His features are relaxed and his voice has no chest tones; he sounds like David Sedaris crossed with Liberace. He says at one point that he believes in God because he needs someone to blame for what happened to him.
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight