"The key to the direction of all the performances is tactful restraint and nuanced modulation. This applies....to Karen Chilton as Drey’s hard-working mother..."
Andrew Sarris, THE NEW YORK OBSERVER
"Karen Chilton projects limitless compassion and depth..."
"Karen Chilton registers strongly as Drey's overburdened mother."
FILM JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL
The Year’s Best Unsung Performances
"Rumplestiltskin Award for Spinning Gold from Straw"
Karen Chilton in "Half Nelson" ________________________________________
--Nicholas Davis, Film Critic
Would you want the job of playing Shareeka Epps' mother in Half Nelson, structured into a script such that the audience will implicitly grasp a young, smack-addicted schoolteacher and a suspiciously affable dealer as tempting options for caretaking and comfort outside the home? The most obvious options for the actress playing "Karen" are to emphasize the woman's negligence or to make her subtly distasteful. Chilton, marvelously, does neither of these things, supplying her character with a fatigue that by no means discounts her warmth and affection but isn't entirely innocent of a certain brusqueness and willful naïveté. You catch Chilton's "Karen" wondering whether her daughter is really okay, and nurturing her as well as she feels she can manage, which still may not be enough. Karen is banking on Drey's maturity, perhaps to a self-indulgent degree, but perhaps she is too worn out to do anything more. She is obviously still smarting, too, from the disappointment of her son's incarceration—and from her police officer's uniform, we know that she sees this basic story play out every day, and may suddenly be thinking of herself as a statistic, a cliché, an unfair victim. Consistently with the rest of Half Nelson's terrific ensemble and smart, nonjudgmental direction, Chilton discloses the shortcomings and passivity in her character while making a strong case for her sound intentions and best efforts.
Copyright (c) Nicholas Davis