Personal Effects (2009) Movie Review

Personal Effects (2009)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Ashton Kutcher, Kathy Bates, Spencer Hudson, John Mann
Director: David Hollander
Release Date: 5 March 2009
Language: English
Length: 110 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars


“When his sister is senselessly murdered, Walter (Ashton Kutcher) walks away from a spot on the national wrestling team to help his grieving mother (Kathy Bates) pick up the pieces. But true healing arrives in the form of an attractive older woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) he meets in his support group. After all, the more time he spends with her and her troubled deaf son (Spencer Hudson), the less focused he is on his own grief.” —


This was an interesting movie and is a bit different from most of the films that I have seen. Instead of dealing with solving a crime, this movie deals with the family’s struggle to have some kind of normal life after a beloved sister and daughter is murdered. It was very gripping and dealt with a lot of intense emotions. I was really surprised as how well acted this movie was and, while I cannot say that I liked the film, I thought that it was pretty good. As always, Michelle Pfeiffer was luminous as Linda and looked years younger than her real age. I did not really struggle with the idea that a younger man could fall in love with her, but I did think that her character was a little bit erratic as if she could not quite decide what to do. Ashton Kutcher was pretty good in his role as Walter, the brother of a murder victim. He struggles with a lot of bottled- up rage and has a difficult time moving on. Without a clear goal to pursue and no real leads to his sister’s murder after the prime suspect is found not guilty in court, his life is stuck and he cannot move on. Spencer Hudson, who plays Michelle Pfeiffer’s deaf son, Clay, was excellent in his role. Most handicapped children are shown as pretty passive or as victims in movies, but he was furious and hated being sidelined because of his disability. When Walter starts training Clay to wrestle, he finds an outlet for his rage, but Walter is too unstable to offer Clay the help and support that he needs. Kathy Bates was not in the movie very often, but she did a great job acting as a grief-stricken mother who finds some form of peace through her faith and is trying to forgive and move on.

The plot is pretty slow moving and it meanders quite a bit between grief, rage and romance. The relationship between Ashton Kutcher & Michelle Pfeiffer was not that believable, but it wasn’t so out there that I couldn’t put up with it. I think the reason why most people don’t like this movie very much is there is no real closure and there is not a happy ending in the offing. I was not that disappointed with either aspect as I felt like the movie was showing a specific time period in a person’s life and life is messy and doesn’t end until you are dead. It is unfortunate that the movie is so slow in the middle as the ending stops you in your tracks like a train wreck and really seems like it is out of place. I wouldn’t say that I would pick this out as a rental DVD, but I watched it on TV and found it a decent way of passing the time. Of course, I must admit that this movie was on Lifetime so that is the kind of movie this is. If you are looking for something a little weepy and a little offbeat, then you should give this movie a chance.


This movie contains some strong language, a lot of fighting, unsolved murders, a cougar romance, some sensual scenes, and quite a bit of violence. If you watch this on TV, I recommend it for ages 12 and up, if you rent it (and I am not sure what the differences are), as this movie is rated R, I would recommend it for ages 18 and up.

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Filed under Drama Movies, Romance Movies

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