Norman follows titular Norman Long (Dan Byrd, Easy A) who sadly lost his mother in a car crash and is losing his father to stomach cancer, a fact he keeps from his peers and teachers.

Dark and depressed Norman is suicidal, self harms and lives an unhappy existence. Things start to perk up a bit though when he begins to bond with the sweet Emily Parrish (Emily VanCamp, Revenge).

There is much to love in Norman and number one on that list is the characters and their relationships with each other.

Norman is deep and complex. He is dark, sarcastic and pessimistic, which is understandable given his circumstances. However, Norman is also deeply caring which can be seen in his relationship with his father and with Emily.

Norman is also quite funny, delivering some wit filled comedy. Dan Byrd does a brilliant job at giving a realistic portrayal of a troubled teenager.

Emily is a great character who looks past Norman’s abrasiveness. Emily VanCamp is well cast in the role. There is a quote at the beginning of the film from an old black-and-white television show: “We still don’t have that one thing that could give us a better way of life”. Emily and Norman’s relationship gives Norman a better way of life.

Unfortunately, in this Emily tends to serve as a foil for Norman’s character development. Thankfully though the character is given enough to make her reasonably well rounded and her motives are clear, she cares for Norman.

Norman’s father Doug is superbly played by Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers, Six Feet Under). Doug of course has lost his wife and knows that soon he will be leaving Norman as well. Jenkins superbly portrays a man who cares deeply for his son while suffering immeasurably.

Another highlight of Norman is the themes explored. Love and grief and the way we choose to deal with these is what this movie deals in and it does it well.

And of course no indie film worth it’s salt is complete without a great indie soundtrack and Norman is no exception.

Indie folk and rock musician Andrew Bird created his first original score for the film and it is superb, it comes in at the perfect times and sets the perfect tone. It also features new and previously released songs by Bird and others by Wolf Parade, The Blow with Richard Swift, and Chad VanGaalen (who’s Rabid Bits of Time is sad and beautiful).

Norman is a great little indie film that deserves to be seen by more people.

It has been released on DVD here and can be picked up fairly cheaply, or through the magic that is the internet it can be streamed cheaply as well (and by cheaply I don’t mean for free. Piracy is bad).

In the mean time here’s the trailer to whet your appetite.