Adapted from Sarah Weeks’s YA novel, So B. It is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Heidi (Talitha Eliana Bateman) who lives in Reno with her severely autistic mother (Jacinda Barrett) and a mother-figure neighbor Bernadette (Alfre Woodard) who suffers from agoraphobia. She knows very little about her past or her family since her mother cannot tell her and there’s no one else to ask. But when she stumbles upon an undeveloped roll of film and prints it, she finds the key to her mom’s history. It points her to Liberty, New York, and so she takes off on a cross-country journey to discover who she really is. It’s a heartwarming coming-of-age story, though more ABC After School Special than must-see in a theater.
Heidi’s mom has always had just 22 words in her vocabulary, but one day a new word pops out of her mouth – soof. It’s a big deal and Mom just keeps saying it. So Heidi needs to find out what it means and starts going through all the boxes in Mom’s room, and discovers the undeveloped roll of film, which has picture of her mom pregnant and some of her grandmother, along with a lot of other people. And small sign in the back of one picture tells her that her mom was in a home called Hill House in Liberty, New York, and so she’s sure that is where she’ll find the answers. Heidi is an unusually lucky girl, and since she needs money and can’t ask Bernadette for it without telling her why she wants it, she heads to the casino dressed as much as she can as a grown-up and wins enough to buy a bus ticket to Liberty. But when she gets there, the head of Hill House, Thurman Hill (John Heard) is not happy to see her and refuses to talk about her mother. But there are some very nice people in town who do take care of her, and eventually they help her find out just who she is, who her family is, and why her mother was all alone in Reno when she was born. And what “soof” means.
So B. It is not deep or especially creative, but it is a sweet story about family and identity. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal (father of Jake and Maggie) the film contrasts Heidi’s life in the confines of her Reno life with the wide world she finds on her journey east, and ultimately looks at what make a family a family. It is a nice coming of age tale and should appeal to those who read the book, mostly girls in their teens I imagine. In fact, I think this would make a great slumber party streamer. Parents can watch something else in the other room.