YEAR: 1994

ROLE:  Patrick

DIRECTOR:  Robert Allan Ackerman

PREMIERE: December 23, 1994

 
Plot Summary

A family endures a reunion caused by possible tragedy in this intense family drama. Mag Singer is the mother of seven boys, all but one of whom are grown. She is suffering from "empty-nest syndrome." She wonders; is there life after motherhood? Her husband Patrick, an inventor has a stress affliction that occasionally causes temporary blindness. He has withdrawn from her and lives in his office. One night Mag dreams that one of her son's is in danger. The next day she learns that Percival may have been killed when terrorists bombed his Marine barracks at his station in Sinai where he was part of peace-keeping forces. The family comes together during the waiting period. It is at this time that the family problems are gradually aired.

 
Film Details

Susan SARANDON................Mag
Nick STAHL........................Simon
Marcia Gay HARDEN.......Cynthia
Robert Sean LEONARD......Alfred
Sean ASTIN.............................Izzy
Matt KEESLAR................Percival
Patricia REEVE....Mrs. Silverman

 
Production Notes

The film was shot in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. It began shooting on January 26, 1994, and completed on March 22 of that year. The screenplay was based on the novel by Ellyn Bache.

 
Movie Stills
 

   
 

   

 
Commentary

Film critic Roger Ebert:
"The cast is first-rate, and so there are individual scenes that sparkle. Many of them involve the invaluable Susan Sarandon, who just continues to grow as an actress... Shepard is effective, too, although his periodic bouts of blindness come across more as comic relief than as psychological symptoms."

Caryn James, NY Times:
"Mag wants a career as a social worker and has kicked Patrick out because he laughed at the idea. Patrick also has occasional bouts of blindness, and the doctors have found no cause. The role is a terrible waste of Mr. Shepard, who spends most of the film walking around the house saying whether he is blind or not."

Leonard Klady, Variety:
"Despite a general dour atmosphere, the cast struggles mightily to provide a human dimension to their roles. Sarandon is effective as the latter-day Mother Courage, and Shepard effortlessly conveys Patrickís effortless rambling through life. Best of the boys is Sean Astin, the square peg in relation to the rest of the group."

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer:
"In this crowded, enormously entertaining production, the filmmaking debut of stage director Robert Allan Ackerman, all the performances apart from Sarandonís are uniformly good. And though Sarandon threatens to eclipse some of her co-stars, Shepard is droll as her husband who suffers inexplicable blind spells and Marcia Gay Harden superb as Alfredís live-in lover."

Peter Rainer, LA Times:
"With the exception of Sarandon, and possibly Shepard and Astin, none of the performers have much authenticity. Sarandon is excellent- Her Mag has a well-worn look; you can believe that this women spent all those years mothering and mediating her brood. And she has a look in her eye for her husband that's a woozy combination of lust and stupefaction. Sarandon makes the movie worth seeing - barely."

Johanna Steinmetz, Chicago Tribune:
"Sarandon endows this part with the heroic passion she brought to Lorenzo's Oil and The Client. Sam Shepard, as her estranged husband, whose own brand of hysteria takes the form of occasional attacks of headaches and blindness, is laconic and perfectly charming. And that's the problem. These are movie stars, very good ones, in roles that might better be played by character actors. The attention their presence commands, and the expectations it sets up, don't fit this quietly riveting drama about a neurotic family, and its confused mother, in crisis."

Yardena Arar, LA Daily News:
"In Safe Passage, Sarandon has some decidedly sensual moments with Sam Shepard, who plays her husband, Patrick, and the father of her seven sons, one of whom is a Marine missing following an explosion at his barracks in the Middle East. The crisis brings the six other boys home and prompts her to re-examine her decision to get out of the marriage she entered into as a teen- ager and begin a career as a social worker."

Christopher Sheid:
"Screenwriter Deena Goldstone gives her script the kind of jangled dialogue one would expect in such a family setting, and the whole cast delivers restrained performances that underscore the film's essential normalcy. Sarandon is at her usual best as Maggie, delivering a thoughtful performance...  Multi-talented actor, director and playwright Shepard also delivers as Patrick, and Sean Astin accompanies his performance with a comedic turn as Patrick's med-student son Izzy, who studies his dad for three days in an attempt to diagnose his blindness."