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Rarely has the stresses and strains of child-rearing and married life been presented so honestly. Sigourney Weaver's Alice Goodwin is a farm wife and mother and part-time school nurse. She is often exhausted and frustrated with her children, the eldest girl being a real pill at times, and bored with the routines of family life. Her husband is a decent, taciturn man, content to deal with the farming and leave the children's need for constant attention and domestic chores to his wife to handle.
Weaver's best friend and neighbor is Theresa, wonderfully played by Julianne Moore, is the perfect wife and mother with a house neat-as-a-pin in contrast to the chaos of Weaver's. A tragic accident sets in motion a series of events that land Weaver in jail, and upsets all the relationships and the world of these very decent people.
What is so refreshing in this film is that all the characters are not cliches. Weaver's Alice is a sharply intelligent, sometimes abrasive, prickly personality. She does not submit humbly to her imprisonment and in fact becomes even more difficult. David Strathairn as Howard her husband, is a man overwhelmed by the sudden responsiblity for his children and household. There is a nice turn by Arliss Howard as Weaver's attorney, self-amused and egotistic at the legal games he plays. Julianne Moore's Theresa is believable in her stricken grief.Read more ›
When I finally did see the film (it never played in theatres here) on DVD - I was not surprised to find that it was as gripping as both the book and soundtrack album were - although each of them overlap, they all seem to have a slightly different take on the nature of Alice's situation. The score is somehow hopeful and as Metheny says in his liner notes somewhat "neutral" - Hamilton's book is fairly dry in tone, letting the reader fill in a lot of implied information on the characters on their own. Scott Elliot perhaps had the hardest job of all, because there was a lot of specific information that he needed to cover to tell the story and still make the movie a managable length - the challenge for all would be movie makers transitioning a piece to film.
I feel he did an amazing job. I love the way he portrayed Alice as a kind of misfit in the somewhat hostile small town. (a rare occasion that Hollywood has not gussied up the Midwest to fit some Rockwell-like mythology - small towns ARE often mean and petty). And I do believe that Sigorney Weaver WAS robbed of the Oscar she deserved for this. This is her most complex role ever and she shines in it. Also, Julianne Moore made the most out of her scenes as did David Straitharn; although physically he was nothing at all like the way that Hamilton portrayed him in the book.
Bottom line? Get it. And do yourself a favor and get the soundtrack album too - it will possibly become the soundtrack of YOUR life as it has for mine over the past year.
The strange thing about this show is that it has a very believable beginning. Powerful, extemely well acted & constructed. The quality of the acting continues throughout the movie & sometimes the power of the story resurfaces. The street police procedural & courtroom scenes are sadly laughable. That is especially strange as the prison scenes are, just like the beginning, well constructed.
I feel the Director is to blame for this not being a top-flight movie throughout. This could of been a tour de force movie but the inconsistent flow of the story as well the scenes obviously constructed simply to play on the emotions we all have make it far less than favorable in my estimation.
I could easily rate this as a 1 star movie for it's faults but the good portions are better than good, they are great. An overall rating of 3 stars for a movie that isn't true to life but needed to stay closer to that than it did. 5 star acting all around by this cast. They did better than what they were given to work with. If you like emotional manipulation you'll like this. If not I would stay away. I know I'll never watch it again & be glad I didn't.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
enough to keep you interested otherwise not what i would call an outstanding moviePublished 13 months ago by Marie in Missouri
the movie was better then expected. this was a different role for Sigourney Weaver to play. but it kept me glued to the movie the whole time. THANK YOU so much!!! BUT!! Read morePublished 14 months ago by dusty ryder
A school nurse (Weaver) is also a wife and mother and the strain of simple everyday life is starting to show. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Apollo
We often have no idea and it can not be learned how to navigate the circumstances that surround us or the perceptions of those we thought we knew. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Abigail