Not all that bad
A Thousand Acres (1997:***) This sober drama lasted about a week in theaters and was dismissed as dreary soap opera by most critics. There are echoes of "King Lear" in the story of a wealthy farmer who decides to divide his estate among his three daughters. But I thought the reviews overestimated the extent to which the story uses the Lear parallels. It's just a catalyst for a strong drama of family conflicts and repressed memories coming to the fore that soon goes its own way. There are some script problems: the youngest daughter's loyalty to her cruel father seems quite inexplicable, and as a lawyer you would think she'd know better than to put a hopelessly senile person on the witness stand. The fine cast does pretty well, especially Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer, although as usual Jennifer Jason Leigh is barely adequate as the youngest sister. Maybe watching this on a stormy Sunday night helped put me in the mood, but I rather enjoyed this one.
- May 11, 1999
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