Athena (Rose Leslie) is forced to consider her life choices when she is called back home to care for her sick father in Amanda Sharp’s Sticky Notes
Off the rails is a good way to describe Athena. Her goal in life is to be a dancer and she certainly seems good enough to have success in that area but outside of that she has no clue what she wants. She seems content to have casual sex with pretty much any man that will have her and sleepwalks through her personal life when jumping from one man to the next.
This changes slightly when she hooks up with Bryan (Justin Bartha) who takes a liking to her and shows her actual respect after their one night stand. This is enough to make Athena curious so she spends more time with him and starts to understand what settling down might be like.
I make it sound like this is what the film is about but it’s more about her relationship with her father, Jack (Ray Liotta) who calls her back home because he has cancer and needs her help. Bound by familial obligation, Athena heads back home to look after her father while his health declines.
The relationship between them is a really interesting one. Through what Jack says and how he acts it’s easy to imagine Athena turning out the way she did. One thing that Jack could never offer is any kind of stability or a strong morality for her to cling to so it makes sense that she would trivialise relationships as a result of her upbringing.
Jack isn’t alone when she gets there as he has a young girl in his care referred to only as Honey Bunny (Camren Tonry). She acts as something of a mirror image of Athena’s childhood as Jack has much the same influence on her and Athena sees from a distance what her upbringing was like.
It sounds like this is a film about a woman realising how terrible a father she had but it’s very much the opposite. With an adult perspective combined with her own life experience, Athena comes to appreciate the qualities about Jack that are worth admiring. She sees where her inner strength came from and her ability to fend for herself. Jack is far from perfect but who is? Their relationship allows for a different perspective on families that shows how varied these forced relationships can be.
Rose Leslie is great as Athena. She tows the line between being standoffish and vulnerable really well and carries the film nicely. Ray Liotta is as great as you would expect him to be. He fully commits to a man who wants to preserve his dignity and has some really old fashioned opinions that he isn’t shy about sharing with anyone within earshot.
Their relationship definitely carries the film as I’ve mentioned and the two actors bounce off each other really well. It’s certainly a volatile connection they have but there’s an affection there that comes through clearly.
Some aspects of the film don’t quite work such as an ending that doesn’t really work or add up when any thought is applied to it. Athena’s relationship with Bryan could have used more development as well as it was verging on interesting but doesn’t really go anywhere.
An interesting insight into a really unique familial relationship. Rose Leslie and Ray Liotta deliver excellent performances of characters that have lots of depth and clearly a turbulent history together. Some story elements don’t quite work and the ending makes little sense when any thought is applied but there’s a lot of good stuff going on here.
- great performances
- solid characterisation
- an interesting exploration of a less than ideal family dynamic
- some underdeveloped elements
- an ending that doesn’t quite work