It is 1950s Nevada, and Professor Vivian Bell arrives to get a divorce. She's unsatisfied with her marriage, and feels out of place at the ranch she stays on, she finds herself increasingly...
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An uptight and conservative woman, working on tenure as a literacy professor at a large urban university, finds herself strangely attracted to a free-spirited, liberal woman who works at a local carnival that comes to town.
It is 1950s Nevada, and Professor Vivian Bell arrives to get a divorce. She's unsatisfied with her marriage, and feels out of place at the ranch she stays on, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Cay Rivers, an open and self-assured lesbian, and the ranchowner's daughter. The emotions released by their developing intimacy, and Vivian's insecurities about her feelings towards Cay, are played out against a backdrop of rocky landscapes and country and western songs. Written by
Neil Lewis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Toward the end of the movie, when Vivian and her divorce lawyer are walking down the steps of the courthouse, you can see an older woman with a straw hat walk up the stairs by them. When Vivian & the lawyer reach the door to walk outside, you can see the same woman walking in. See more »
He reached in and put a string of lights around my heart.
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Reading some of the other comments, and the reviews at the time it came out, I suppose my feeling about this movie must be extremely idiosyncratic. Yet, all the people I rope in to watching this film seem to agree with me - so this is to give a counterpoint to the tepid (at best) comments I've read so far.
This is a beautifully photographed film, from beginning to end. It perfectly captures the ambiance and look of the Reno area in 1959 (I know because I was there); not just in appearance, but in the characters as well. Period music is expertly used throughout the film, with the final choice of Ella Fitzgerald's "I Wished on the Moon" a haunting and perfect end. I can't help but think that because this film was one of the first to spend several uncompromising minutes devoted to lesbian lovemaking that people tended to focus almost exclusively on that scene - and make pronouncements based on their own comfort levels with how it was filmed. This scene is really quite beautiful, but it could be left out and the sex only hinted at without harming the flow of the film. The two main characters are well-thought-out and fully realized; both fine performances (Helen Shaver is near perfect). All of the supporting characters are interesting and perfectly believable. The intelligent, witty script gives deep insight into the characters with minimal time spent. The humor is subtle but satisfying. Two examples: 1) when "the professor" comes out of her room after brooding for several days she is asked by another guest what she has been doing in there - the eccentric, grizzled ranch manager (Audra Lindley - who looks like she has been burned into the Nevada landscape)answers like a schoolmarm, "whatever it is, it's too deep for us to understand" 2) while horseback riding in the desert a Marilyn wannabe in blue jeans gets off her horse and says "my girdle is killing me!" For me this is a near perfect film. The only thing close to a criticism I can muster is the Kay character seems a bit too contemporary (but his is a very minor point and the role is well played). Unlike the other commentors, I think the characters are fascinating, each scene stands on its own as a perfect little vignette, and not only did I find the film enjoyable when it first came out, I have watched it at least 18 times since and it always holds up beautifully. Watch this movie with an open mind, void of preconceptions and value judgements, and see if you aren't enchanted (or at least entertained).
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