School nurse Alice Goodwin lives with her husband and two daughters on a dairy farm in a small Wisconsin community. After an accident on her property involving a friend's child, the town turns against her and Alice finds herself fighting charges of child abuse. Written by
An unusually mature theme, endearingly enduring, with mature performances for mature audience
It's not an easy subject at all. It's about the life of a married woman (a city woman) in a farming small town environment, with two young daughters and a not quite communicative husband, how things just happened one day out of the blue, and the subsequent unexpected spin-off events turning her life topsy turvy, and her unusually calm approach to it all. Nothing is what it seems - we just have to ride the enduring travails with the three principal characters.
Very mature performance by Sigourney Weaver as Alice Goodwin, the seemingly always self-assured, independent, educated person in control: as the wife giving instructions to her husband, as the mother handling her daughters, as the school nurse attending to the kids. She always knows what she's saying or doing. Yet she's actually holding back a lot of mixed emotions within herself, unable to let go, most of all, unable to forgive herself.
Julianne Moore is Theresa, a good friend and neighbor to Alice. She gave another supporting nuance performance. David Strathairn is Howard the quiet gentle husband. Arliss Howard is the assured lawyer that Alice wanted for the case; he commented he has never seen anyone took to these wrongful accusations so well, and asked what's her trick to keep so calm and collected, to which she replied, "Have you ever wanted to go away on an island " That's how she felt about being away from it all - that world of conceivable madness outside.
The three principals are veteran actors who have matured with such elegance and in multiple intelligent roles:
Sigourney Weaver is far beyond the queen of alien movies since 1979 with the subsequent three sequels, she has been the unattainable woman opposite William Hurt in 1981 "Eyewitness", Mel Gibson in 1982 "The Year of Living Dangerously", Michael Caine in 1986 "Half Moon Street"; delivered tour de force performances in 1988 "Gorilla in the Mist", 1994 "Death and the Maiden", 1995 "Copycat". Twice opposite Kevin Kline in 1993 "Dave" and 1997 "The Ice Storm". Comedy-wise, she shines as one of the super fun members in 1984 and 1989 "Ghostbusters" flicks, the wicked boss to Melanie Griffith in 1988 "Working Girl", and yet another fun member of the hilarious team in 1999 "Galaxy Quest".
David Strathairn - I first remembered him in director Phil Alden Robinson's 1992 "Sneakers" with the fun ensemble cast of computer wizards Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, Dan Aykroyd; Strathairn was the wiz who's blind and what an outstanding performance he did. His other roles have been pretty much the subtle supporting man, e.g., to Mercedes Ruehl in 1993 "Lost in Yonkers", as the pastor in 1998 "Simon Birch", but he was definitely front and center in his long time association (since 1980 and seventh time round) with John Sayles in 1999 "Limbo", delivering a terrific performance opposite Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Vanessa Martinez.
Julianne Moore - I remember her initially in Robert Altman's stellar ensemble cast of 1993 "Short Cuts", then her unforgettable performance in Todd Haynes' 1995 "Safe"; she stands out in another ensemble cast in Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 "Boogie Nights". In 1999, she's in five films: an outstanding delivery playing opposite Glenn Close in Altman's fun ensemble piece "Cookies Fortune"; another ensemble tongue-whipping cast in Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" (Oliver Parker directed); yet part of another ensemble engineered by P.T. Anderson in "Magnolia"; then front and center as the love of Ralph Fiennes' character in Neil Jordan's "The End of the Affair"; and here an effective supporting role in "A Map of the World".
Bold (debut) direction by Scott Elliott. A bonus is the film scored by the Pat Metheny Group - the guitar plus strings aptly complemented the mood and flavor of the plot. This film may not be for a teenage audience, it certainly warrants mature appreciation.
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