Murph (Ned Beatty), who’s nearing retirement age, and Paul (Liev Schreiber), an ex con new on the job, are paired as parks department coworkers who develop a deep May – December friendship in Spring Forward. It’s tempting to call any free floating, two man gabfest ”My [Fill in the Blank] With Andre,” but this discursive character study, written and directed by playwright Tom Gilroy, isn’t really about talking the talk (which, unlike that in ”Andre,” is noticeably ”playwritten”).
Rather, it’s about the great, restrained performances of Beatty and Schreiber, delicately framed by the filmmaker’s taste for visual compositions that reflect the changing seasons. A vernal task leads to a standoff with an obnoxious local scion (Campbell Scott), in a class struggle as urgent and green as a shoot of grass; a summer patrol connects Paul to a vibrant woman (Frasier’s Peri Gilpin) who’s not deterred by his sunblock of self pity. Like plants to light, the actors bloom in such a nurturing setting.