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Chiel van de Wolf,
A drama that swoops in on Empire Falls, an economically depressed mill town in Maine, and lifetime resident Miles Roby, who's run the town's top restaurant for some twenty years. Miles is surrounded by his newly thin wife, meddling father, and hostile boss. Written by
I saw the premiere in NYC, and I work with one of the cast members, so my take on the movie is a bit biased.
I also grew up in Maine, and know several of the locations well. All told, the production captured the sense of community in Maine very well. Look out the window of the Empire Grill for the best music store chain in the country, Bullmoose Music, or the background for other Maine details - Gifford's Icecream, Hannaford's, Route 201, Kennebunkport (and the Bush compound at Walker Point).
The film is excellent, and managed to translate the Richard Russo novel quite well. There was little changed or left out from the book - keep in mind this is a nearly 4 hour mini-series in two parts, 8 chapters. Watch it in two installments, late May, 2005 on HBO.
There is a very interesting dynamic with Paul Newman playing the passionate opposite of real-life wife Joanne Woodward, playing the rational and controlling matriarch. Ed Harris is the center of the production, and turns in a well considered and Mainer-like performance. Danielle Panabaker also performed well, and will turn into a starlet sooner than later. The supporting cast of Helen Hunt, Dennis Farina (hilarious), Kate Burton (wow), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright Penn, Aidan Quinn, and Jeff DeMunn add up to an amazing ensemble.
It would be a 10 of 10 if the ending weren't the easy way out of a complex story, a problem with the book as well as the film.
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