Several residents of a small Southern city whose lives are changed by the arrival of a stranger with a controversial plan to save their decaying hometown. In the midst of today's ... See full summary »
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Several residents of a small Southern city whose lives are changed by the arrival of a stranger with a controversial plan to save their decaying hometown. In the midst of today's challenging times, each of the colorful citizens of this close-knit North Carolina community, will search for ways to reinvent themselves, their relationships and the very heart of their neighborhood. Written by
Ellen Burstyn's character, "Georgiana Carr," bears the last name of an actual Durham, N.C., family that was prominent in the tobacco business. The large portrait in her house, showing a uniformed man with a big white mustache, is a picture of Julian Shakespeare Carr (1845-1924), one of Durham's earliest tobacco magnates, who was involved in a variety of other business enterprises and was a highly regarded philanthropist. The portrait normally resides in the North Carolina Collection of the Durham County Public Library. See more »
While Mary and her mother are talking in her bedroom, her mother's hair changes position - alternately behind and in front of her ear. See more »
This city like many in America, has come to a rough moment in its history. A city after all is just a collection of houses and buildings, hopes and dreams that depend on the fortune and determination and fate of its residents. The future, uncertain at best can be fearful or full of promise. It's all in how you see it..."
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As previous reviewers have synopsized the plot, I will not do that. The number of negative reviews is surprising, especially since most of those have no clue what this movie is about. And, their lack of insight is what leads them to think it is simple and uninteresting. Nothing could be further from the truth for movie-goers who are more interested in humanity than in over-wrought drama (e.g., serial killers, absurd disasters, cartoonish fantasies, etc., etc. -- save me from "Hollywood")that offer no real insight into our humanity.
Here is what this movie is about: the "hazardous waste" is pure metaphor for our fears: our fears of the future, of technology, of the unknown. The question this movie poses so clearly and powerfully is: how should we confront the fear of the future, which is inevitably one of confronting the nature of what our humanity involves: technology and change? And, it does have an answer, with which I could not agree more -- and with which I would hope anyone watching this movie would also, easily or not, come to agree.
Just as "To Kill a Mockingbird" was about our fears of others who are unknown to us and with whom we have no real experience, this movie asks us how we react to the unknown: Do we flee, or do we stand and make something out of whatever it is we have? The heroes in this movie do the latter and show those who would do otherwise the way forward ... which is what the best in our humanity always does, after all.
Orlando Bloom's character's mother (Mrs. Parker) and his erstwhile girlfriend's mother (Miriam) are afraid of the future and want to withdraw, hunker down. They have no will for their children to overcome. Orlando Bloom's character deals with the uncertain future by working hard to make something good of it. His girlfriend's character wants to run away.
Ellen Burstyn's character is caught in the middle of a dilemma: trust the unknown that offers progress and salvation, or give in to something safely predictable by selling out. In the end, she let's go of what is truly in the past (her home) and embraces what it is that offers hope for the future (the warehouse).
When our cities, our lives, our civilizations appear to be crumbling, what works: retreating from the challenge? Or, embracing new, uncertain, potentially scary things (metaphorically -- yes, metaphorically -- represented by nuclear waste)? This movie deals powerfully with those who would point to every "problem" on the way to the future (e.g., Fukushima) as a reason to retreat rather than as a lesson to learn, a problem to overcome. It basically says: accidents will happen: some good, some bad; get over it by learning from them and moving on. Imagine humanity retreating in the face of all the disasters it has encountered on the way to its current future? We would be still chipping flint with a lifespan of less than 30 difficult years.
Yes, this movie makes plain that Luddites are much to be feared, as are those who believe that "corporations" are bad and industry is almost certainly hiding are all sorts of horrible things. Instead, this movie says that we humans are, on balance, good. If we do not give in to our fears we can overcome those among us who would give in. By moving ahead (not by retreating or running away) we can overcome the challenges we create for ourselves because our very nature is to overcome. We are tool makers. We are proactive. We want good things for our children. Those who are destructive among us are a minority and will be overcome. But, do not fear what we are. Do not fear technology. Do not fear the way we organize our abilities to trade our best efforts with each other (i.e., industry, corporations, technology, progress).
Typical "Hollywood types" will not like this film because it counters every one of their most cherished beliefs: that Western Civilization, in its current most fully-realized form, is almost certainly bad for the humanity in us. Instead, it shows that our humanity is most realized when we trust ourselves to use our knowledge to give us what it will. After all, we (and I mean all 7 billion of us) would not be living longer, more satisfying, more comfortable lives than our predecessors in the 18th or 19th centuries had we not done so before now.
Beyond the point of the movie, the plot is one that could not be more satisfying in its simplicity or more poignant. These are real people leading real lives that many among us have led. No serial killers, no absurd global calamities, no over-dramatic nonsense. Just real people facing difficult human emotions and choices and helping each other through them. I can see why these fine actors decided to work in this film. Each of the actors delivers powerful performances: Ellen Burtsyn has never been better. My heart ached as she dithered about what to do with her life, both past, present, and future. Colin Firth was perfect in presenting the face of the future: shining with promise, but making us wonder nonetheless. Can we trust him? Until we realize the real question is: can we trust ourselves? Orlando Bloom shows us why it is so hard for those who believe in themselves and believe in the future to soldier on, despite so many disbelievers around, especially among loved-ones.
I could go, but the cast was magnificent and did the screenplay such justice. Horton Foote, despite his age, was at the height of his story-telling prowess. If you like real people; if you like movies that are real about humanity, then you will like "Main Street."
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