A bracing indie movie starring Julianne Nicholson as an ex-con mum and Emma Roberts as her idealistic lawyer.

While most Hollywood movies tend to spoon-feed the viewer with easily digestible plots and characters, this drama requires us to sit up and pay attention.

Writer-director Matthew Newton’s film slowly reveals the circumstances behind Nicholson’s troubled character. A seething mix of toughness and vulnerability, she is trying to gain custody of her 10-year-old son from her married sister (Jess Weixler), the boy’s legal guardian.

Meanwhile, Roberts’ idealistic young pro-bono lawyer faces family pressure of a different kind from her self-absorbed actress mother (Lea Thompson).

It’s hardly a jolt when their stories intertwine, but where the movie ends up may still come as a surprise. Seek this one out; it’s a real gem.