Peter Soffel is the stuffy warden of a remote American prison around the turn of the century. His wife, Kate, finds herself attracted to prisoner Ed Biddle. She abandons her husband and ... See full summary »
A somewhat mentally handicapped 20-year-old man works as a laborer, but everyone abuse his naiveté. A nice 40-year-old American woman hires him one day and they become close. However, the town and his family see her as predatory.
Tom and Mae Garvey are a hard working farming couple living with their two children on the east Tennessee farm owned by Tom's family for generations. They and many of their neighbors have hit hard times of late. A downturn in the economy has led to dwindling land prices. But the biggest problem of late has been that their crop land has been prone to flooding as the property is adjacent to a river. Manipulating the powers that be including a local senator and the local bank, Joe Wade, who also grew up in the area and now runs the local milling company that sets the local grain prices, is working behind the scenes to buy up the properties along the river for a song as he wants to build a dam which would flood the Garvey's and others riverfront properties. The dam would generate electricity, but more importantly for Joe it would provide irrigation opportunities for farm properties away from the river, such as his own. Tom already intensely dislikes Joe as he and Mae used to go together. ... Written by
Tom and Mae Garvey (Mel Gibson, Sissy Spacek) are the owners of a small eastern Tennessee farm that has been in the Garvey family for generations. It is the early 1980s, when the staggering U.S. economy threatens the welfare of the American family farm. The Garveys' struggles are compounded by the fact that their property is in a flood plain, and by the enmity of Tom's rival Joe Wade (Scott Glenn), who is a wealthy and powerful foe. This is not lighthearted entertainment.
For me, the film's most powerful moments come when cash-strapped Tom has to leave the farm to find work elsewhere. He unknowingly becomes a scab in a factory where the regular labor force is on strike. At least there is a regular paycheck, but the contrast between the man-made hell of a iron foundry/steel mill and the natural beauty of the family farm is compelling, and you can see why the Garveys struggle to hold on to their agricultural way of life, however hard it is. The cinematography for this movie is way above average, a celebration of rural America.
Sissy Spacek delivers her usual fine performance. Mel Gibson is very good-- his Tennessee accent quite convincing. The two youngsters who play their children deserve special praise for their natural performances. This is a good, thoughtful movie-- not romantic, thrilling or exciting-- but one the family can watch together and think what sacrifices they would make to keep a heritage and a way of life preserved.
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