Powder [1995]

Director: Jerzy Zielinski, Victor Salva
Stars: Mary Steenburgen, Jeff Goldblum, Sean Patrick Flanery, Lance Henriksen, Missy Crider
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 112 minutes

For all its flaws, Powder is still worthwhile for attempting to be unique and well intentioned. The film's qualities were overshadowed after its 1995 release when it was revealed that writer-director Victor Salva had served 15 months in prison for molesting a child actor during production of the 1988 TV movie Clownhouse. Controversy aside, Powder is a welcome step off the beaten path with sufficient strengths to balance its weaknesses. Fantasy and drama combine in the story of a teenager known as Powder for his snow-white skin. Powder is introduced into a tiny Texas community after spending his entire life in his grandparents' basement. He's a wise genius, but an outcast, alienated by those who misunderstand and fear him. When a schoolmaster (Mary Steenburgen) and science teacher (Jeff Goldblum) discover that Powder has a capacity for empathic insight and possesses the power to control electricity, the unusual boy becomes a tragic Christ-like figure--peaceful, prophetic, and perhaps too good to survive in the real world. In telling this heartfelt story, Powder struggles to be all things to all viewers--equal parts E.T. and The Elephant Man--which compromises its overall impact. But even though it's not a great movie, it sincerely tries to accomplish something original and wonderful, and that's more than most movies can claim. --Jeff Shannon

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