Milton’s Secret is a story about survival during the difficult middle school years, when bullying runs rampant and children begin to understand their own family’s dynamics. The protagonist Milton is portrayed by William Ainscough as a thoughtful, gentle suburban child who encounters just these challenging preteen issues. Milton is threatened by bullies at school and is concerned about his parents, who are distracted by financial and emotional woes. This timely film echoes the real world, as it seems that monthly we hear of young boys and girls who kill themselves over bullying.
Donald Sutherland plays Milton’s loving Grandpa Howard who comes to visit for the boy’s birthday. We see a Grandpa who has softened with age – he now rides a motorcycle, takes Zumba classes from his new girlfriend, performs tea ceremonies (even during family meals in restaurants), and loves to garden. In his quiet, intimate, non-intrusive manner he frequently shares bits of wisdom with Milton. He advises the young boy to take a breath, be in the present, purr like a cat, and invoke alchemy. Milton works on practicing these coping mechanisms whenever he is confronted by the school bully, finally to great effect. In his words, Milton learns to conquer “Planet Fear.”
This film is written and directed by Barnet Bain (adapted from a children’s book by the Power of Now teacher Eckhart Tolle). Bain is a producer (What Dreams May Come), screenwriter (The Celestine Prophecy), and author (The Book of Doing and Being, Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work). He infuses the film with languid pacing and an uplifting soundtrack featuring 1960s Donovan songs. Percy Hynes White as the bully is so scary-mean that I cringed whenever he was onscreen and inwardly felt a sense of triumph as Milton learned to move out of Planet Fear. This film is suitable for families as it shares Milton’s secret lesson of the empowerment that can come from being here now.
Milton’s Secret opens September 30. For more information visit: www.miltonssecret.com
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