A grittily realistic drama, Blue Car is as downbeat as it is honest about adolescent abandonment and the desperate need for connection. Though the story is made up of conventional elements, all the unglamorous truth hangs out and the emotional turns are warranted by the solid script and nuanced performances. In her breakthrough performance as Meg, Agnes Bruckner is the embodiment of understated teenage pain. The role of a high school poet is often made into a caricature, but Bruckner brings a raw honesty and apprehension to the part that avoids overwrought stereotypes. Veteran actor David Strathairn also hits the right note in the difficult role of Mr. Auster; their scenes together in the classroom are carefully observed with nervous details and real teacher-student interaction. With her ragged fingernails and glassy composure, Meg shows incredible strength in reserve by constructing her identity from the scraps left around her. Her search for connectedness is a sincere one, and each devastating experience seems to attest her tenacity. The ethereal soundtrack by Adam Gorgoni skillfully reflects the intimate nature of the story, especially during the reflective second half. After all of the dark abandonment and betrayal she endures, the conclusion at the final poetry competition reveals a cathartic personal victory. Though the subject matter could've been mistreated by other filmmakers, Blue Car is handled with care and enough concern to get all the bleak details right.