Blue Car

A blue car is what Meg’s father was driving when he left the family in Karen Moncrieff’s “Blue Car,” a moody, almost somnolent film in which good performances outweigh the oppressive subject matter.

Meg (Agnes Brucker) is a high school student with abilities in poetry-writing. Her mother (Margaret Colin) is overworked and apathetic, and her younger sister Lily (Regan Arnold) is mildly psychotic, a threat to herself and others.

The closest thing to a father figure for Meg is her English teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn), who strongly encourages her to enter a national poetry contest. He is a mentor and friend to her, and sure enough, what you expect to happen in this situation happens.

As the resolute and brave Meg, Agnes Brucker gives a remarkably strong performance that will especially appeal to young women. The much-overlooked David Strathairn is excellent, too, imbuing Mr. Auster with realistic flaws and sincerity.

Throughout the film, one keeps wanting desperately for something good to happen to Meg. That’s not a result of the character’s sympathetic nature so much as of the story’s relentlessly dreary trajectory. Meg’s life is not particularly filled with utter tragedy, but for heaven’s sake, could she at least take a bubble bath, or eat some Ben & Jerry’s, or something?

B- (; R, scattered harsh profanity, some strong sexuality.)