In Texas in the 1930s, young schoolteacher Novalyne Price meets a handsome, eccentric, interesting young man named Robert Howard. He's a successful writer - of the pulp stories of 'Conan ... See full summary »
Textile company heir Wayland is accused of murder of a prostitute named Elizabeth, whose body was found cut in two in the park. The murder is investigated by tough detective Kennesaw and ... See full summary »
Although Dr. Harlan Williams' (Chris Noth) military service is never specifically addressed in the movie, he is seen wearing the insignia of the 45th Infantry ("Thunderbird") Division on one of his uniforms. This unit fought in both World War II and Korea. See more »
When the family arrives in Saint Louis for the first time, a US flag can be seen flying. However, this flag has 50 stars and in 1953 there were only 48 states. See more »
During the movie, we see Robbie doing cross stitch many times. At the end of the movie, we see Ann sitting in a chair, finishing the same cross stitch of their entire adventure, with "THE END." This goes right into the credits, which are done entirely in cross stitch. See more »
This is in many ways a fascinating movie. It is certainly entertaining and moves quite well, and everybody puts their best into it. (The "making of" featurette on the DVD is a wonderful look into the making of a higher budgeted 'indie' movie by the way.) But there is one serious flaw to the film, and that is Renée Zellweger's performance. Whenever the character undergoes pressure, she gets all wobbly and quirky, like a character actor playing a supporting role - but she's not only the lead, she's what the picture is all about, so this is definitely a flaw that threatens to derail the whole project.
Fortunately, it doesn't. First, of course, everyone else in the picture submits wonderful performances. Logan Lerman is a marvelous young actor who strikes chemistry with practically everyone he interacts with. And the film is really beautiful to look at, and filled with pleasantly eccentric characters, in situations highly evocative of the era in which they occur, the 1950s.
Secondly, part of the problem with Zellweger's performance may have to do with the character herself. Although she fancies herself a Deep-South Southern Belle, deserving of the better things in life, once we meet her sister we realize that she really comes from the mid-South commercial class, and that her attitude of entitlement is a self-delusion. She is thus out of touch with her own life, and in need of review of her identity. On the other hand, her desperate search for a husband to support her has a realistic edge - the '50's America was not kind to single moms. The question thus becomes whether the inner struggles involved in her effort to survive repeated crises is well presented. I'm not sure it is, but not from want of trying on Ms. Zellweger's part. It may be that the core of the character is really hard to define.
Otherwise, I have no trouble recommending this often amusing, insightful glimpse into a complex family during an era of change. It may have no more weight than an old family snapshot of the era, but it is as telling and well-developed a snapshot as one could wish.
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