As a Wisconsinite--and one who has seen rural Wisconsin's lush beauty--I was pretty darn depressed by this film. (Of course it didn't help that in the opening scene, they are listening to Milwaukee radio; if you can get Milwaukee radio in Wisconsin, honey, you ain't rural!) The acting is spotty, with the best efforts coming from the actors playing the parents; they accurately portray the twin results of isolation and hopelessness (physical and mental decay).
The story itself is good, overall, and is full of realistic details. An isolated farm family deals with the pain that comes from living on a failing farm, with little hope for its future or that of the family, unless one of the children can be counted on to take over the farm. The parents snipe at each other and smoke incessantly; the mother prays to win the lottery; the father drinks and beats whoever is in range, and they all milk cows first thing in the morning, every single morning. The teenage daughter counts on leaving, eventually, when her parents give her the money they owe her for helping on the farm; in reality she feels she can't leave her younger brother alone in the family.
A handsome milkman strikes up a friendship with the daughter. He isn't glamorized, but it's made clear that he is a positive influence in her life and in her brother's. He wants to take her away (despite the fact that he tells everyone he has a wife and daughter back east). The real drama takes place within the family; he is only incidental, providing the opportunity for things to come to a head between the daughter and her father. A predictable and anticlimactic ending did not really satisfy me or answer any questions.
The cinematography is stark and monochromatic, giving the unfortunate impression that Wisconsin is cold, muddy, and dead (but not snowy) all year round. If it was shot in Wisconsin, I'd like to know what month of the year they shot the outdoor scenes, that they were able to exclude sunshine, green growth, AND snow. Sounds more like Indiana to me...
In sum: an interesting movie, with which much more could have been done. Forgettable despite an accurate portrayal of an element of American society that we see too seldom.
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