"We wouldn't know normal if it fell on us."
"October Country" is the story of family, and how after one generation loses its way, it becomes difficult for the future ones to return. The subjects of the documentary are the Moshers, a working class family living in the Mohawk Valley of central New York. The family is headed by Don, a retired Policeman and veteran, and his wife Dottie. In the film, they reflect on the choices made by their children and grandchildren, which have spun the family into a depressing repetition of failed marriages, abusive relationships, teen pregnancy, poverty, and substance abuse.
Don, who is deeply scarred by his time in Vietnam and the gulf war, is emotionally distant and mentally defeated. His wife, Dottie, does her best to hold her family together, while trying to come to terms with the choices they've made. The town itself reflects the crumbling relationships of the family, with only one plant employing most of the population, and Walmart being the only place to shop. It's an area as depressing as the Mosher's story.
"October Country" addresses the question, When you are hurt or disappointed by those you love, what is left? Can a cycle of bad choices be broken? And when should you stop trying to fix other people? There is no real resolution to these questions in the film. It seems that all you are really left with is the fact that despite pain, people continue whether they want to or not. Ghosts of the past follow you, and sometimes the future doesn't look so bright either. While watching a year with the Mosher family, one can't help but think there are thousands of other American families experiencing the same thing. There is a light in the tunnel however, in the form of Desiree, the Mosher's spunky granddaughter, who seems to recognize the mistakes of her mother and sister, as well as the hopelessness of the area.
This is a difficult film to describe, because its beauty lies in it simplicity. There is a story there, but the story is somehow less significant than the result. Change is what is important. I don't know how this wonderfully filmed documentary has fallen under the radar. I found it completely engrossing and honest. I really love documentaries and I think this one of the best I've seen in years. It's as if someone just turned the camera on and caught a portrait American lives that some people would rather just forget. A lot of families have problems that last through generations, and there is a root to every problem. However, it's not always on the surface and easy to dissect. This movie is an honest attempt to examine a family in decline from all angles. You just have to see it.