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The World Made Straight (2015)

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In a rural Appalachian community haunted by the legacy of a Civil War massacre, a rebellious young man struggles to escape the violence that would bind him to the past.

Director:

David Burris

Writers:

Ron Rash (based on the novel by), Shane Danielsen (screenplay by)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Noah Wyle ... Leonard
Jeremy Irvine ... Travis
Minka Kelly ... Dena
Adelaide Clemens ... Lori
Steve Earle ... Carlton
Haley Joel Osment ... Shank
Marcus Hester ... Hubert
Colin Dennard ... Wesley
Alex Van ... Father
Robin Mullins Robin Mullins ... Mother
Frances Burnett ... Kera
Robert Haulbrook ... Mr. Atwell
Sandra Ellis Lafferty ... Mrs. Ponder (as Sandra Lafferty)
Ryan Taylor Harris Ryan Taylor Harris ... Emily
Anne O'Shea ... Mrs. Triplett
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Storyline

In a rural Appalachian community haunted by the legacy of a Civil War massacre, a rebellious young man struggles to escape the violence that would bind him to the past.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

For blood. For money. For a way out.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including sexual references, drug content and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

facebook | Official Site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 January 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Daha Iyi Bir Dünya See more »

Filming Locations:

Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bloody Madison and the Shelton Laurel Massacre actually happened. The massacre site is now on private property. When Marshall Elementary was still on Blanahassett Island in the French Broad River, up into the 1980's, the 8th grade history teacher taught the students the history of Bloody Madison and plays by the students were given. Although the story is frequently passed down in most families by that age anyway. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Leonard: [narrating] Landscape is destiny. I've carried that phrase in my head for years now. I can't remember where it comes from, but I know what it means here. It's a sense of being closed-in. Human limitation. It's different from the Midwest, where possibility sprawls bright and endless in every direction. People in the Himalayas, the Andes, do they live in the passive voice too, like their live aren't real? Their memories fixed, immutable?
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User Reviews

 
Landscape is Destiny
11 January 2015 | by David FergusonSee all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. The Hatfields and McCoys family feud has long been a favorite topic and inspiration for literary and film projects. Lesser known, but ultimately more tragic and historically vital, is the 1863 Shelton Laurel Massacre during the Civil War. The novel from Ron Rash is the foundation of director David Burris' film that explores the fallout of that incident more than 100 years later in the very rural Appalachian hills of Madison County, North Carolina.

It doesn't take us long to get a line on Travis (Jeremy Irvine, War Horse), a high school dropout with authority issues who hangs out with his equally aimless friends, including Shane (Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense). We have seen many film depictions of hillbillies over the years, so the grim atmosphere of unemployment, isolation, lack of education, drugs and lack-of-hope aren't surprising, and the undercurrent of the 1863 event is what should have set this one apart.

Interest picks up when teacher-turned-drug dealer Leonard (Noah Wyle) takes Travis under his wing after Travis has an unfortunate run-in with Carlton (Steve Earle), another local drug dealer. Travis moves in with Leonard and his drug-addicted girlfriend (Minka Kelly), and takes a real interest in the journals of Civil War soldiers that Leonard has collected. These stories spark a curiosity within Travis, in particular the saga of 13 year old David Shelton – one of the victims of the massacre.

It's the fact that Travis is oblivious to the history of his family, and how this event has so affected life in his hometown, that makes this story difficult to buy into. In spite of the communication void between Travis and his father, it's just not possible that the massacre would not have been a frequent topic of discussion throughout the years. Beyond that, this is little more than a typical small town battle between drug dealers … albeit two very articulate drug dealers. And yes, guns and turf do play a role here.

Jeremy Irvine, Noah Wyle and Steve Earle each make their characters someone interesting to watch. On the other hand, the female characters are mostly after-thoughts or plot devices. Travis' mother maintains a forlorn look that registers her resignation to fate, while Minka Kelly mostly gets knocked around (save for one excellent scene while alone with Travis), and Adelaide Clemens provides the rare sparks of light and optimism as Travis' love interest – and then just as quickly becomes a non-entity.

The fine acting and excellent camera work deserved a better story, especially given the framework of history. There is a recurring hillbilly philosophy in the movie that states "Time don't pass. It's just layers. It's all still happening." That philosophy could have better tied the current story into the past, which would have elevated this film to a new level.


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