Whatever Happened to Melodrama? Coming of Age Without Much Enthusiasm in Harvest


A grandfather on death’s door, a slightly shady uncle, a New Agey Mom—and one college kid returning home for the summer to the Connecticut manse that houses them all. These are the dimly imagined ingredients in Harvest, Marc Meyers’s lukewarm semi-coming-of-age tale in which undergraduate Josh Winters’s (Jack Carpenter) biggest worry seems to be whether he’ll find lasting love. Josh’s role, however, is mostly a passive one, as he mediates the various familial tensions that inevitably crop up in conventional domestic dramas. Meyers, who also wrote the screenplay, doesn’t force any conflict, and intruding plot points, such as the question of the grandfather’s will, are cursorily resolved. But this is largely a non-narrative piece, the director employing a slice-of-life-in-crisis approach that only works if the characters or the situations are sharply drawn. Neither are—and Meyers, with his insistence on understatement, never shows an eye for distinctive detail or a penchant for enlivening events. Grand-father and grandson bond, Mom referees between her two feuding brothers and the family readies itself for the old man’s death, but everything ultimately feels as airy and unfocused as Josh’s Alzheimer’s-wracked grandmother, who wanders aimlessly around the estate in a wince-inducing depiction of dementia.