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3 Backyards

Critic's Pick Critics' Pick

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: R — for a scene of sexual content
  • Director: Eric Mendelsohn   Cast: Embeth Davidtz, Edie Falco, Elias Koteas, Rachel Resheff, Kathryn Erbe
  • Running Time: 85 minutes
  • Reader Rating: Write a Review




Screen Media Ventures

Release Date

Mar 11, 2011

Release Notes


Official Website


Eric Mendelsohn’s 3 Backyards is a lyric portrait of three people in a wealthy suburb, a place at once lovely, mysterious, and profoundly, corrosively isolating. The movie has none of the smugness of ­American Beauty: You could dream of living in a world like this. (It’s on Long ­Island’s North Shore.) Mendelsohn cuts among Elias Koteas as a businessman on the verge of splitting from his wife, Edie Falco as an amateur painter who is over the moon at the prospect of driving a glamorous celebrity (Embeth Davidtz) to the ­ferry, and Rachel Resheff as a little girl who misses her school bus and makes her way through a forest with hidden horrors. As the narrative baton passes from character to character, the camera takes on a life of its own, moving in on insects and sunlight-dappled leaves, the images under­scored by Michael Nicholas’s mystical strings, woodwinds, and glassy timpani. Koteas, having missed his plane, creeps back to his house and gazes through the windows at his family. The actor has an unruly, beseeching spirit barely contained by his suit and tie. Falco, in scenes of escalating unpleasantness, attempts to draw out the celebrity, who is stricken by some unnamed woe. Never has the longing to be validated by the famous seemed so fierce and unnatural, even tragic. It should be said that with technique so flamboyant, Mendelsohn risks seeming ridiculous, but I think he gets it at least 80 percent of the time. At its best, the movie is exquisite.