The Mighty Mulvaneys
"We Were the Mulvaneys" is based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates a book which back in 2001 featured in Oprah's Book Club although for regular readers here will not be surprised when I say I haven't read the book. But trust me when I say that you don't need to have read the book to appreciate this movie which is full of characters and depth. And if like me you have watched a few TV movies which feature someone being raped this will take you by surprise as it is not the usual sort of drama.
The Mulvaneys were a close knit family; they ate together, went to church together and were always there for each other. That is until when after going to the high school prom Marianne (Tammy Blanchard - Rabbit Hole) returns home having been raped by Zachary Lundt (Shawn Roberts). It causes this once close family who shared everything to become fractured as Marianne's father Michael (Beau Bridges - Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure) turns to drink, the brothers start to row and poor Marianne is stuck in the middle as she watches the family fall apart because of her.
I will cut to the chase as "We Were the Mulvaneys" is about what happens to the Mulvaney family, this once close knit family in the aftermath of Marianne being raped as they become fractured. We see how it affects them all individually from Marianne being dispatched to an Aunt in order for the family to try and move on to Michael finding his business suffering and turning to drink. We also see how Marianne's mother Corinne tries to carry on as if nothing ever happened whilst Marianne's sporting brother Mike finds himself forced to the tow line at school playing on the team with the boy who raped his sister. All of which is told from the view point of the youngest of the Mulvaney family Judd.
There is more to it than just this because the opening scene sees Judd meeting up with Mariannes twin brother Patrick in an empty quarry to hand him one of his father's rifles and ammo. That scene hints of something much darker which is going to happen and "We Were the Mulvaneys" certainly has its share of dark moments especially the brutal rape scene.
But "We Were the Mulvaneys" is also full of rich characters, from Corinne played by Blythe Danner who just tries to carry on as if nothing has happened to Tammy Blanchard who as Marianne brings both vulnerability and strength to her character. But the star of "We Were the Mulvaneys" is Beau Bridges who as Michael takes us on a journey of a man whose life spirals into self destruction after Marianne's rape. We see how he expectedly feels anger towards the rapist and then the system and then the town who side with the rapist's family leading to drink and a failed business as well as abandonment and a lot more.
What this all boils down to is that "We Were the Mulvaneys" is an extremely powerful movie and a much more detailed look at the destruction of a family in the aftermath of a tragic event.