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William Ainscough and Donald Sutherland in Milton’s Secret.

eOne

2 out of 4 stars

Title
Milton's Secret
Written by
Barnet Bain, Sara B. Cooper, Donald Martin
Directed by
Barnet Bain
Starring
Donald Sutherland, William Ainscough, Mia Kirshner
Genre
Drama
Classification
PG
Country
Canada
Language
English
Year
2016

Workaholic parents have little attention for family, smartphones are omnipresent, economic times are tough. Life, man – it's stressful.

For Milton Adams (William Ainscough), on the cusp of 12, there are the added pressures of a bully next door, the possibility of his parents divorcing and a looming public-speaking assignment. Then, his grandfather (Donald Sutherland, who is terrific) comes to town, wearing a loud shirt but exuding calm.

A hippie who has fought his own demons with a conscious and spiritual approach to life, Grandpa teaches Milton to deal with anxiety and get off Planet Fear. There's a lesson there for Milton's parents (Mia Kirshner and David Sutcliffe), too. Milton's teacher (Michelle Rodriguez) is another caring figure.

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Based on the picture book co-authored by Power of Now superstar Eckhart Tolle, Milton's Secret carries a powerful and important message, but the film feels ham-fisted, clichéd and overearnest at times, especially for adult viewers. It is a worthy outing (or VOD rental) for any family, though – if you can find the time.

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