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OFF THE MAP

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The summer of 1974 proves a watershed year for the Groden family, living off the grid in the high desert of northern New Mexico. Dad (Sam Elliott) is paralyzed with depression, to the dismay of his precocious 11-year-old daughter (Valentina de Angelis) and his nuturing wife (Joan Allen). In this gentle drama, a wayward IRS agent (Jim True-Frost) becomes the catalyst for each character to edge forward by varying degrees. Director Campbell Scott adapted Joan Ackermann's play, yet his extravagant use of the gorgeous wide-open scenery and his apt choice of naturalistic actors make this story feel anything but stage-bound. With its hopeful messages about alternative families -- J.K. Simmons is a treat as the gentle bear of a neighbor -- and its sweetly magical end, Off the Map is a portrait of a wonderfully disorienting season in the wild. Sometimes you gotta get really lost to find yourself. Squirrel Hill (AH)

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