Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from director Nick Hamm and Roadside Attractions is the true story of life and courage with NATE & GIGI.

Nate (Charlie Rowe) is a young daredevil who loves adventure and fun. After a fun afternoon with family and friends, Nate starts to feel ill and is struck down quickly. Mom Claire (Marsha Gay Harden) knows this is more than the small-town hospital can handle and has her son rushed out. Contacting Dad Dan (Jim Belushi), he finds a miracle and a way home to his son.

Along with sisters Annabelle (Hannah Riley), Katy (Josephine Langford) and Grandmother Blanche (Diane Ladd) at the hospital, all they can do it wait and see. Four years later, Nate has not adjusted to his condition with Claire and Dan watching it all. That’s when Claire decides that Nate needs more.

That is when Nate meets Gigi, a capuchin monkey who is trained to be a service animal after being rescued from her harsh life. Starting a new life with Nate and his family, Gigi is even more cautious adapting to her surroundings. But she connects with Nate and the two become inseparable.

Nate even starts to get out more and meets Hannah (Annabelle Gibson) who remembers him from their meeting years before. Also in the store is Chloe Gaines (Welker White) and she is tearing into Nate about Gigi being in the store, but Claire is not about to take any of her guff. What they did not know is that the woman is about to put their lives in a tailspin with Nate and Gigi the center of it all.

But love and friendship are powerful weapons!

Rowe as Nate is such an expressive actor. Once he has limited movement, it is his facial expressions that are front and center. From that we come to understand the characters struggles with depression and fear of the future. The outcome of the story is heartwarming and that is because of Rowe’s portrayal and his connection with “Gigi”.

Harden as Claire is a mother who is not going to let anyone get in the way of her son’s continual attempt to find a place in the world. Of course there does come a point where her character confronts husband Dan with the truth of what it is like physically and mentally to help a child who can not do for himself. Belushi as Dan is a man who travels a lot to keep the family in their lifestyle and Nate cared for. The strain weights on him as well as a father seeing his son struggle.

Riley as Annabelle is a sister trying to find her own place in the family. Every emotional resource is fixed on Nate and that causes her guilt but at the same time feeling a little invisible, yet she loves her brother. Langford as Katy is the sister who has outbursts of her emotions and does not care who it is aimed at. When Gigi arrives, we see how quickly she goes from zero to one hundred emotionally.

Gibson as Hannah meets Nate when he is standing and meets him again after his injury. Embraces it all and meeting Gigi, she invites him to a party not thinking of the consequences. White as Chloe is just that woman who wants to rage while using Gigi as an excuse to do so. She is also a character you want to slap into the past where this character belongs.

Ladd as Grandma Blanche is the quiet force in the family, an emotional ninja that you never see coming. She goes out of her way not to interfere with the family dynamic while also going out of her way to show that it is all worth the fight. Well done Ms. Ladd, well done!

Other cast include: Mishel Prada as Carolyn Alibon, Zoe Colletti as Lori, Deja Dee as Jane Elling, Olly Sholotan as Benji Betts, Sasha Compere as Nogo, Emilio Garcia-Sanchez as Travis Holter, Gillian Rabin as Sophie and Lindsay Ayliffe as Dr. Falerias.

Roadside Attractions has, since 2003, grossed over $300M and garnered nineteen Academy Award nominations. They have had critical and commercial hits such as MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, BEN IS BACK, BEATRIZ AT DINNER, HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS, WINTER’S BONE and THE COVER as well as so many others. For more information of what Roadside Attractions has to offer please visit

Director Hamm says of the film, “What surprised me most about this film is how much I loved it, and how much I fell in love with the story, the animal and the hope that the movie can give to people. There is a discussion to be had about how we help these young men and women and how we get them through certain situations. That’s what we’re about, and I think this movie can help in that dialogue.”

NATE & GIGI is a definetly a family film that teaches about adversity, hope, a good fight for something so very right and how, when things don’t change quick enough, you adapt on your own terms. These characters are dealing with some heavy, heavy issues and it is also not all about Nate and Gigi, it is about a family trying to discover how it all fits.

They are not looking for perfection, they are looking for what works for everyone as best as they can. When they realize it is time to speak out, each of them about what has been caged up since the day Nate ended up in the wheelchair. Once they do so, they can adjust again so that each member is heard – even Gigi.

NATE & GIGI is a film that can be watched together as a family and discussed after leaving an impression that it takes something as small as a capuchin monkey to make the world a more hopeful place.

In the end – this is friendship!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.