Stray Dogs, written and directed by Catherine Crouch from the stage play by Julie Jensen, is an exquisite little gem of a film that studies distinctively alternate family styles with lovely photography and expert direction. Stray Dogs screens Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at Key Cinemas, 4044 S. Keystone Ave., as part of the Key’s monthly showcase of local film. Admission is free. The story focuses on a severely dysfunctional family in the Appalachians in 1958. Darla (Guinevere Turner) is an unhappy wife attempting to escape her marriage from the alcoholic Myers (Bill Sage). Their two young sons (Zach Gray and Ryan Kelley) cope with the stress in very different ways; complicating matters is Myers’ sister Jolene (Dot-Marie Jones), who wants to help Darla escape but is torn by her own feelings for her. Crouch, a recent transplant to Indianapolis, deftly juggles the tense balance that drives the story. It is a story of dichotomies: between male and female gender roles, between hope and despair, and religious fervor and sadism. Her treatment of the young brothers hangs on the sharpest edges, shifting smoothly from the exuberant innocence of youth to the uncertainty and fear of a world that makes no sense. The two could not be any more different, and yet they share so much in common. They are not the only ones. For more information on Key Cinema’s monthly local film showcase, call 784-7454 or visit www.keycinemas.com.