|Index||2 reviews in total|
Katherine Ann Porter's short story about a poor farmer who takes on a
fugitive as his hired man has a number of complexities which can provoke
discussions for years. There is an earlier version with Jason Robards,
Olivia DeHavilland and Theodore Bikel which captures the theme of the story
but comes out a bit stodgy in spite of the cast. This feature with Fred
Ward, Stellan Skarsgård, Pat Hingle and the very beautiful and talented Lise
Hilboldt captures much of the shadow nuances of Porter's original work.
Ward is especially effective as the turn of the century farmer whose life is transformed by the mysterious Swede who won't talk, works like a horse and plays the harmonica. Skarsgård, seen recently as the brutal Saxon king in the revisionist King Arthur, is superb as the taciturn Swede. Great support comes from veteran character actor, Pat Hingle,as the villainous bounty hunter and craggy, James Gammon as the sheriff. But, the bright light is the delicate but solid performance of Lise Hilboldt, as the wife who is caught in the middle of mixed feelings about the mysterious Swede, her marriage to her mercurial husband and her own conflicts.
As looking at a slice of life in desolate, South Texas, this little film works. I suppose the amazing thing is that it is a made for TV movie that has some substance-- considering that 90% of what is viewed on TV is pure garbage and the remaining 10% is on its way to becoming garbage. So, how did a thoughtful, provocative film like this make it through? Amazing. Simply amazing.
Based on the short story by Katherine Anne Porter, this quiet film is about a Swedish man who comes to work for a family in Texas. Despite their efforts, he refuses to become part of the family, and hardly talks during the whole nine years he's with them. In the beginning we think he is odd--the way he becomes angry when someone even touches his harmonicas, the way he works without stopping, bringing fortune to the family, and the way he gets angry if people insist on talking to him. Yet after a series of unsettling events, the viewer begins to wonder if he is human at all. A wonderful film that draws you completely into its dreamlike mood. I give it a.........9/10.
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