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Wendell B. Harris Jr.
Wendell B. Harris Jr.,
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Ruby, a young woman, arrives in a Florida resort town during the off season to make a fresh start. She gets work as a sales clerk in a souvineer shop run by Mildred Chambers. She dates, and sleeps with, Ricky Chambers, Mildred's conceited son, but breaks off with him when she finds she's just another conquest. She gets involved with Mike, a left-wing greenhouse worker. As the seasons change, Ruby's relationships with others and herself go through metamorphoses as she makes choices and discoveries establishing her own identity. A character study. Written by
James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Very slow-paced, but intricately structured and ultimately very touching. A nice, very true-to-life look at a small Florida beach town in the dead of winter -- I've been there, and this is absolutely accurate.
It's also the debut feature of actress Ashley Judd, and she makes a big impression here. It's hard to believe this film is 12 years old -- I remember seeing it in theaters, and I recently rented "Ruby" again. Except for the 80's looking clothes, it has held up very nicely. Ashely is so radiant and touching here, that it's hard to think of her subsequent career without wincing. Boy, talk about failing to fulfill your early promise! Anyone seeing Ashley here in "Ruby In Paradise" would assume this elegant, natural beauty went on to all kinds of interesting art films and serious acting -- instead she has become the "go to" girl for dumb action films and slasher movies! Very disappointing, but at least we have this lovely performance preserved to showcase her early promise.
As some other commenter's say, this is not for everyone as it's very slow paced. This is not an action film, nor is it really a romance. The director (Victor Nunez, "Ulees Gold", another excellent character study) treats this ordinary young woman's life with deep respect, allowing her story to build slowly and with a lot of detail. In that way, I think this is one of the most moving and respectful coming-of-age stories about young women that I can recall -- it's not about Ruby's sexual awakening or "how she lost her virginity", but about her life choices and her growing maturity.
A lovely film, if you take the time to watch it...I think it would be a really excellent film to show teens and young girls (or boys for that matter) and give them a chance to think about and discuss it.
Particular kudos to director Nunez, who also wrote the script, which is so realistic and nicely detailed that I assumed all through the movie that it was based on a female-written novel or memoir, but in fact it's Mr. Nunez's original work. Rated 8 out of 10.
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