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Adapted by author Richard Russo from his 2001 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, EMPIRE FALLS is a portrait of the gritty drama and human comedy that make up everyday life in blue-collar America. On a daily basis, goodhearted restaurant manager Miles Roby (Ed Harris "Glengarry Glen Ross") tries to keep his Empire Grill going, even as the wealthy and powerful Mrs. Whiting(Joanne Woodward "Philadelphia"), makes life difficult for him. If that wasn't enough, Miles has to keep tabs on his scoundrel of a dad, Max (Paul Newman "The Color of Money") who is always looking for trouble. But, Miles has something much bigger than just restaurant receipts and a cantankerous father on his mind-he can't shake the ghosts of his past that keep his fate inevitably connected to Empire Falls.]]>
The goal of Russo and director Fred Schepisi seems to have been fidelity to the novel, which gives the film a pleasingly relaxed pace but also a somewhat literal-minded binding. Even that doesn't explain the general lack of tautness, or why so much of the dialogue has an awkward fit in actors' mouths. Harris and Newman, of course, are younger and older versions of American monuments, and their sheer presence goes a long way toward making the picture work (for the premium Newman-Russo match, see Robert Benton's sublime film of Nobody's Fool). Most of the twists in the final reels are genuinely affecting, and the movie has the courage to end on a mild note rather than strain to tie everything up. It's a fitting finale for an unassuming enterprise. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
The first was the fact that it was based upon Richard Russo's award-winning book of the same name. The second was that Russo himself wrote the adapted screenplay. The third was the incredible, all-star cast; and the fourth was that it was an HBO production. Each of these elements contributes to a mini-series now available on DVD and one that is not to be missed.
Let's start with the story. No one, absolutely no one, captures small town America the way Richard Russo does. Unlike some writers whose only real acquaintance with this setting seems to be either a brief glimpse from the Interstate or, worse, some other Hollywood writer's impression, Russo writes as though he actually spent years in the former mill towns, sitting at the diner, the tavern, or the doughnut shop soaking in the lost dreams and dead-end futures that haunt many of the residents of these communities. But unlike writers who see only despair in such a setting, Russo captures -but never makes light of- the small victories that the locals do grab onto to make life worth living. Odd as it may seem to the Sacks Fifth Avenue set, it IS possible to have a fulfilling life without ever owning a Gucci...and Russo is the master of introducing audiences to such lives. It is the audience's further fortune to have Russo acting here as his own screenwriter. The tweaks, cuts and short cuts necessary to make a novel into a workable screen presentation were thereby handled lovingly by their creator. He did not leave in too much, he did cut too much. True, the mini-series format gave him extra room to work, but he did the most with it and the audience is the clear beneficiary.Read more ›
Empire Falls is a small town set in New England where life is simple and everyone knows everybody. But for Miles Roby, a man who has been working in the same grill for most of his life, there's something missing. He feels that Mrs. Whiting who owns the grill has it in for him and he doesn't seen anything extraordinary happening in his life. He's been through a divorce and his ex-wife Janine is about to get remarried something his daughter Tick doesn't want to happen at all. Miles also has to put up with his senile father Max who thinks everyone has it in for him.
Miles frequently has flashback of his childhood when his mother was still alive and he tries to remember Charlie Mayne who he hates but he can't really figure out what happened to him. His daughter Tick is also trying to connect with a tortured boy who she tries to help but realizes he's beyond her saving. Miles also struggles with the feelings that Mrs. Whiting's handicapped daughter Cindy has for him. Miles is just a guy who doesn't think that he should be spending the rest of his life flipping burgers at the same old grill and he wants more with his life.
Empire Falls is driven by an all star cast of Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Newman, Aidan Quinn, Dennis Farina, Joanne Woodward, and so many more. It is a heartwarming adventure and it is a must see.
If you love Richard Russo's storytelling, as I do, you'll feel that in this film from the very beginning. If you're not familiar with him, though, it may at first come off as slow. Russo, who wrote the screenplay based on his book, takes his time to paint the picture of what Empire Falls was before and is now, so enjoy the light humor and the local in-fighting, but also pay attention. The details Russo sprinkles into this mosaic upfront will show up again later, as things tend to do between people and families in small towns.
The cast is incredible for such a small film. Ed Harris is perfect as Miles Roby, the local guy who is so smart that everyone in town always wonders why he still lives there. As Roby's cantankerous father, Max, Paul Newman is the perfect blend of hilariously cantankerous and forever beaten down by life. I also really liked Helen Hunt in this, specifically because her character is so unlikeable - an unusual role for her. Dennis Farina is also good, as always, this time as the town phony who always acts surprised that anyone would think he's a phony. And Mrs. Newman, Joanne Woodward, is just terrific in the only "bitch from hell" role I've ever see her play.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We both read the book and thoroughly enjoyed the movie version. Very true to the written work.Published 1 month ago by Russell V.
Love Richard Russo's work so much and wonder how difficult it is for the author to re-write his book as a screenplay, which is what Richard Russo did for this film. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Anonymous
Read the book first, but even if you don't, you've got a great star cast here with Ed Harris in top form. Read morePublished 7 months ago by William M.
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Anybody been to "Empire Falls?"||
I also visited Skowhegan about a year ago and had to stop in the empire grill. The food was good and the people working there were nice. I plan to stop in again later this year and Ill let you know if its still there. The grill not the town. I have to admit that I likeed the town very much.
Jun 29, 2010 by Edward C. Anderson | See all 2 posts
|main music theme of empire falls||Be the first to reply|
|what was this TV show's name ?||Be the first to reply|
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