Years after the death of their son a couple, Zooey (Toni Collette) and Alec (Ioan Gruffudd), want another child but are unable to conceive. After visiting an adoption agency a 7-year-old boy called Eli (Maurice Cole) turns up on their doorstep claiming to have been sent by the adoption agency. Eli is a precocious child filled with wise words and always seen wearing a tailored suit. With Eli in their lives Zooey and Alec learn to enjoy each other again and try to rescue Alec’s ailing toy company.
Foster is unfamiliar territory for me with its feet planted firmly in the family comedy drama category. This is more Stuart Little than About a Boy. An incredibly sweet story of love and loss Foster is for the most part familiar and predictable but has at least one surprise in its ninety minute runtime. The film’s pace and plotting are very gentle and the films bobs along without too much turbulence. Drama-wise this is akin to taking a pedalo out on the local pond; there are no waves, no real threat, but occasionally it veers slightly to the left.
With the combination of precocious young Eli, a toy factory in crisis, and Richard E. Grant as a wise tramp Foster takes on quite a whimsical feel. This is a film preaching the importance of family and the need for decent Christmas presents in the same breath. There are also references to faith and religion but only in the most bizarre way such that the Christmas scenes are the only time you are guaranteed not to hear God referred to.
Foster is a little clumsy, and Toni Collette’s Scottish accent a little jarring, but on the whole is a perfectly harmless and charming drama that can be watched by the whole family. With a story of love and consumerism without any real peril Foster would make for a gentle watch on Christmas Day when you’ve run out of presents to open.
Foster is available on DVD from today.