An official selection of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Dedication marks the directorial debut of actor Justin Theroux (better known as the cowboy director in Mulholland Dr. and, most recently, Jesus Christ in the grossly overrated The Ten). And it’s well worth seeing.

Billy Crudup (amazing as always) plays Henry Roth, a depressed, anxious children’s book author with a terrible childhood behind him and a need to sleep with heavy Encyclopedia Britannicas on his chest – you know, so he can feel safe. His best friend, professional collaborator and father figure is Rudy Holt, played by an excellent Tom Wilkinson. When Rudy dies, Henry collaborates with a new illustrator (Mandy Moore), with whom he falls in love.

The premise might sound cheesy, and Moore’s character could be further explored – and kept from devolving into one-dimensional by the third act – but the wonderful performances, Theroux’s stylish choices and rhythmic pacing and David Bromberg’s excellent script give viewers more than enough reasons to check out a very cool debut.

Grade: B

Dedication releases in select theaters Aug. 24.