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Joshua Michael Stern
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The distressed emotions that Arvilla Holden are feeling upon the death of her husband Joe Holden are compounded by dealing with Joe's adult daughter, Francine Packer. Joe and Arvilla were lovingly married for twenty years, and although they lived in Pocatello, Idaho - Arvilla's home town - they traveled the world on one adventure after another. Joe was from Santa Barbara, California, where Francine and the extended Holden family still live. Arvilla is certain that Joe wrote a new will after they got married, but since that will is nowhere to be found, the official will is the one that Francine has in her possession, which outlines certain things that Arvilla knows Joe would not now have wanted. That will states that Joe's embalmed body is to be interned with Francine's mother in Santa Barbara, despite Joe already having been cremated. Arvilla knows that Joe would have wanted his ashes scattered into the wind. The will also deeds the house in which Arvilla and Joe lived their entire ... Written by
A Little Film with Heart: Appreciating Fine Actors
BONNEVILLE creeps up on the viewer. It is a solid marriage of light comedy and sentiment and the somewhat slight story is brought to life by the natural gifts of a trio of superb actors. Why it did not find popularity in the theaters is probably due to the topic of death and the cast of 'older actresses', but it is a solid little film that deserves more attention.
Arvilla (Jessica Lange) has lost her husband of 20 years and promised to scatter his ashes over places the couple loved. Her step daughter Francine (Christine Baranski) demands the 'ashes' be buried next to her mother's grave in Santa Barbara, threatening her stepmother with eviction from her Pocatello, Idaho home if Arvilla doesn't comply. Two of Arvilla's friends - the restless widow Margene (Kathy Bates) and the oh-so-Mormon Carol (Joan Allen) support their friend and plan to fly with Arvilla to take the ashes to Santa Barbara. But circumstances begin to change when the threesome bond tightly and decide to take Arvilla's husband's old Bonneville on a road trip to California. From here on the film is a Road Trip - a time when the three women learn lessons about life and death and love and compassion from each other - and from a young hitchhiker Bo (Victor Rasuk of 'Saving Victor Vargas', 'Stop- Loss' etc) and trucker Emmett (Tom Skirrett). The trip from Idaho to California passes through some of the Southwest's most beautiful scenery, places once shared by Arvilla and her late husband, and slowly the urn of ashes is distributed along the way to the dreaded Santa Barbara funeral.
Christopher N. Rowley directs this sweet story by Daniel D. Davis with great respect for the gifts of the three fine actors, allowing them to show us just why they remain some of our finest talent on the screen. It is not a great film, but it has such a fine heart that we can relax and just ride along with it. Grady Harp
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