There isn't a false note nor a dishonest scene in this drama of tragedy and its aftermath. A wonderful cast, led by Sigourney Weaver in a superb performance, play recognizably flawed and human characters coping with the tragic death of a child, and then, later, arrest and imprisonment for child abuse.
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.
This is a sharply observed study of real people under stress and passing through the kind of events that change lives forever. It is worth your time alone to see Sigourney Weaver's masterful embodiment of this beautiful, difficult, ornery and truthful woman. But her marvelous performance is matched and ably supported by her co-stars.
There may be missing that "big" cathartic moment to round out the picture, this film opting to reveal its truths more quietly and matter-of-factly, but it has something to say about how people cope with and are transformed by tragedy and tribulation, and that makes it reach farther than most of the fare we get. A solid 4-1/2 stars. Worthwhile.
on November 23, 2000
I came to this DVD because I have cherished the soundtrack album by guitarist Pat Metheny since it first came out. It contains simply some of the most beautiful and touching music I have heard in the past few years. The soundtrack album is also a fanstastic companion to the book by Jane Hamilton, because on the album (which is expanded by almost a half an hour beyond the music in the film) Metheny really tells Hamilton's tale without words.
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.
on November 3, 2011
A Map of the World (Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, David Strathairn & Chloe Sevigny) is a movie about the difficulties encountered by most people at sometime in their lives, add a tragic child's death & then what happens when false allegations are added to that stress & you get this movie. Those who have raised children & those responsible for children's welfare know very well how you can be pushed to the brink of your limits by these circumstances. Inappropiate speech intended to be humor can easily creep into the attempt to maintain ones equilibrium & sanity.
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.
on June 23, 2000
"A Map of the World" will probably be best remembered for its powerhouse performances from Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore. Both ladies are pitch-perfect as they weave this terrifying story of how life can change in an instant. The film will definitely leave the viewer shaken. I recommend viewing the film as a companion piece to the novel. The novel simply has more time for character development, and it allows the reader to really get inside the minds of the people in the story. On the whole, however, a picture most definitely worth your while.
on October 5, 2002
Based on a novel by Jane Hamilton, Map of the World is a gripping family drama. Alice ( Sigourney Weaver ) and Horward ( David Strathairn ) have moved to the countryside and own a farm. Alice is a nurse at the local school and Horward tends his farm. Alice is active and a loving person at heart. However, she is disorganised, speaks her mind and often attracts trouble. They have two demanding young kids who get Alice to her wits' end. Their neighbours are Theresa ( Julianne Moore ) and Dan also with two kids. One day Alice offers to take all the four kids for a swim while Theresa goes for an outing. Alice has her hands full with the kids and while she is in the bathroom, tragedy strikes. Theresa's younger daughter has strayed into the pond and is lying face down in the water when Alice frantically finds her. They rush to the hospital, but the worst happens and the child dies. Theresa is completely shattered while Alice is filled with guilt. She is unable to face Theresa and the family goes through social backlash. However, there is more trouble on the way as Alice is arrested for alleged child abuse at school. Horward is now overwhelmed with the troubles in the family. One the one hand he has to take care of the farm and the kids while on the other he has to get Alice out of prison.
Director Scott Elliott has handled this family drama well. Several scenes stand out, one between Alice and Theresa after the loss for her child is heartbreaking, a series of scenes showing Alice's anexity at the hospital when the child is strugging for life and then there is one scene where Horward leaves the children in a store of a mall and rushes to meet Alice in prison just in time for the visiting hours. Elliott has also shown the understanding and love between the couple quite naturally. Alice's dislike for her know-it-all mother-in-law comes through clearly. All young parents will easily relate to the tandrums their children throw at the busiest times of the day.There are some unrealistic scenes in the movie too. The women's prison seems like a smart hotel with concealed reading lamps next to the bed and the prisoners are dressed in neat and attractive clothes. What also hits you in the movie is the loneliness and helplessness of the family in difficult times. It's the typical social reaction that is encountered in today's society.
Sigourney Weaver and David Strathairn have done a fantastic job. Julianne Moore seems a little less expressive considering her tragic role. The pace of the movie is fair but you will absorbed in the story till the very end. Recommended.
This is an excellent adaptation of Jane Hamilton's best selling novel of the same name. It is a somewhat difficult book to capture on screen, as it centers primarily upon the emotional transition of one character, Alice Goodwin. Still, the film makes a herculean effort to do so, and in doing so, Sigourney Weaver, who plays the role of Alice, gives an award calibre performance. Wonderful performances are also given by David Strathairn in the role of Alice's husband and Julianne Moore as Theresa, Alice's neighbor and friend.
Alice Goodwin and her easy going, ineffectual husband, Howard, together with their two bratty, young children, move from the city to the country, so that Howard may try to achieve his life long dream of being a farmer. Alice works as a nurse in the local school, where she does not win many friends, given her prickly personality and tendency to speak before she thinks. Theresa is a neighbor with two children with whom Alice becomes close friends.
Alice is a very complex character. She is intelligent, outspoken, abrasive, sloppy, disorganized, and always seems to be walking out of step with everyone else. Theresa is her total opposite. She could be the poster child for good housekeeping. Yet, they click. One day, Theresa leaves her two children with Alice, who is going to take them swimming in the pond with her own children. While the kids are playing together in the house, Alice slips away upstairs to get her bething suit. When she return, one of Theresa's children is missing and is later found floating face down in the pond. At the hospital, all attempts to revive her fail.
Needless to say, though it clearly was an accident, Alice's and Theresa's friendship suffers a set back. As Alice is not well liked, the townspeople do not gather around her in her moment of need. Instead, those whom she has irritated use this moment to mount allegations of child abuse in Alice's capacity as school nurse. As the scandal snowballs and Alice is arrested, she seems almost to welcome the opprobrium heaped upon her by the townfolk. She stoically awaits her trial in jail, almost as if she were expiating her real and imagined sins, while her puzzled husband is left to cope as best he can, as his world and dreams topple in one fell swoop.
What happens to Alice, Howard, and Theresa is gripping, due to the outstanding performances given. In particular, it is riveting, as well as frustrating, to watch Alice's handling of her own situation. It is as if she were playing a role belonging to someone else, as the perception the town has of her has no real bearing on reality. In that context, the film is, in some measure, reminiscent of Albert Camus' existential work, "The Stranger". It is fascinating to watch Alice's metamorphosis, as she ultimately comes to grips with all that has happened to her and finds acceptance of self. This is a film well worth watching. It will not disappoint the discerning viewer.
on October 13, 2000
This movie proves Sigourney is move than a good alien killer. She really draws you into her world, and when everyone is against her, she doesnt lash out, she takes it out on herself, physically. This proves she really cares about those around her. The ugliness and accusations really upset me, because she was not at fault, yet everyone believed all the lies. So typical of todays society though. I recommend this movie if you a fan of Sigourney, once again she proves that she has wisdom and can survive in the face of tragedy.
on August 4, 2000
Not having read the book (though I plan to now), I wasn't sure what to expect from this movie. I found the movie to be well-made and intriguing, although it left some questions which I hope will be answered in the book. I can't discuss specifics without spoiling the movie, and I realize that a two-hour show must omit some details, but those omissions are the reason for my rating. Sigourney Weaver is fantastic as a mother nearly overwhelmed by her responsiblities, but her character's stubbornness kept me on edge, wondering what she would do next to jeopardize her own well-being. The sisters who portray Weaver's daughters in the show do an impressive job, as well, particularly the oldest, who, as Emma, grows and changes convincingly as her world comes down around her. It's a powerful movie, with poignant performances by the lead actors and an impressive supporting cast.
on March 24, 2005
I honestly found this movie to be disarming, mostly because of Sigourney Weaver's performance as an unapologetic and perhaps too honest and too direct woman whose very regular life unravels under tragic consequences and the scrutiny that comes afterward. Weaver plays Alice, a school nurse, wife of a Wisconsin farmer, who comes off as coarse, abrasive and unmannered. This makes very little difference at first, except that she might be something of an outsider. This, however, bears a great deal of difference, when, while babysitting for her best friend Theresa (Julianne Moore), one of Theresa's children drowns. Ultimately Alice is scrutinized following this accident, and later is held legally accountable for charges of child abuse made against her.
The story delves very deeply into the three-dimensional characters in this film; a psychological and adult film that probes various dimensions of its character's lives very effectively. Weaver's Alice particularly has the greatest burden to bear, the most weakness and frailty but at the same time the most strength. She is stripped to bare bones (from a psychological standpoint) in jail, and though she has to be strong and resolute to live there, the aftermath of the events reveal immediate impacts on her family (her husband has been content to run the farm and leave the daily life business to her; suddenly he is confronted with rearing their children, whom he hardly seems to know, and coming up with ways to handle the mounting legal bills, etc.) Relationships are tested in the film (both relationships people have with themselves as well as relationships between people), and the performances delivered by Weaver, David Strathairn as her husband and Moore as the grieving mother, Theresa, are deeply felt, human performances.
on October 1, 2000
The book this movie was based on was just wonderul. Many people have found it depressing but I have found it more interesting than sad. Sigourney Weaver was just perfect as Alice. We could easily see her inner turmoil even though she actually didn't speak many words about how bad she felt. I thought it was handled with delicacy and taste. The supporting actors added greatly to this fine movie but it all belonged to Weaver and she handled it all perfectly.