One of a series of short-story adaptations directed by Bruce Schwartz, "I Stand Here Ironing" is a moving tale of a mother's regret over her inability to provide for her daughter. It is also that rare example of a film that surpasses in quality its literary source. Tillie Olsen's original story merely alludes to events that Schwartz is able to depict with nuance and detail.
It's a low-budget affair, but the direction and acting more than compensate for the barren production design. Schwartz has a knack for eliciting from his cast the perfect reaction shots that communicate volumes, and he knows how long to hold each take for maximum impact. The cast is uniformly excellent, especially Solene and Sarah LeVan, who combine to play Emily in the various stages of her childhood. (The LeVan sisters, two years apart IRL, are so identical that I was not aware that two actresses played the role until I saw the cast list on IMDb.)
All of Schwartz's short-story adaptations (produced for the Thompson / Wadsworth literature textbook series) are extremely well-made and worth seeking out, but "I Stand Here Ironing" may well be the mini-masterpiece among the lot.
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