Kelly and Evelyn Ryan live in Defiance, Ohio with their 10 children. At first glance their life seems idyllic; they call each other "Mother" and "Father" and seem to dote on the kids. But Kelly was a garage-band crooner whose voice was ruined in an auto accident. He's resigned to a dead-end factory job that barely pays the bills, and is given to fits of alcohol-induced rage. Evelyn, a stay-at-home wife and mother, deals with this abuse by appealing to her priest, who is no help at all. She deals with their poverty by entering the jingle contests that were the rage in the 50's and early 60's, even sending in multiple entries in the names of the children. She is very clever at it, winning more than her share of prizes, but her successes aren't enough to keep the wolf from the door. Further, they trigger Kelly's insecurities and he retreats deeper into the bottle, using food and mortgage money to support the habit. Can the loving, optimistic Evelyn hold the family together? Is she ... Written by
We were reluctant to see this film, but since it was the only choice at the time, we took a gamble that paid off in unexpected ways. First of all, this is a charming film that will win even skeptics, like myself. Director Jane Anderson's adaptation of Terry Ryan's book is a sunny portrayal of a woman who in spite of the monetary problems she suffered most of her life, was a winning individual because of the love she had for everyone, even for the husband, that on the surface, didn't appreciate her.
The story of Evelyn Ryan, an amazing woman from Ohio, comes to lie on the screen in the way the superb Julianne Moore portrays her. Evelyn was going places before she got married; she showed such promise, but her marriage to Kelly Ryan transforms her into a woman that has to perform wonders in order to keep her ten children, fed, clothed and educated. She did a wonderful job with all of them! Evelyn Ryan's talent for winning all kinds of prizes in those contests during the early age of television provides the family with a lot of material things and cash to keep them afloat. While Kelly is spending the money in liquor, Evelyn has to plead with the milkman to extend her credit. Having a strong will and a positive attitude toward life, Evelyn seems to typify that adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade".
Julianne Moore, one of our best actress is perfect as Evelyn Ryan. The film is the surprise it is because of the charisma Ms. Moore, under the direction of Ms. Anderson, gives to the film. Woody Harrelson, as Kelly, is fine as well in conveying the man who seems to have let life defeat him and will not do anything about it. Laura Dern is only seen in a a few scenes, but as always, she is a welcome presence in anything she plays. Ellary Porterfield plays Tuff as different stages of the girl's life.
This is a life affirming film and a tribute to Evelyn Ryan, a woman that in spite of the hard times always found solace in the great family she brought to the world.
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