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Monday, November 26, 2018

A Thousand Acres (1997)

An aging prosperous Iowa farmer (Jason Robards) decides to retire and splits his thousand acres of land to this three daughters (Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh). But this "gift" sets forth a series of tragic events that will wrench the dynasty apart. Based on the Pulitzer prize winning novel by Jane Smiley and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse. The film (and its source material novel) are a reworking of Shakespeare's KING LEAR. One would assume based on the near savage reviews the film received when released in 1997 that this would be the most dreadful of soap operas. What I found was an emotionally stirring drama with two fierce performances by Pfeiffer and Lange (Jennifer Jason Leigh's character is underwritten). Naturally, it doesn't reach the heights of Shakespearean tragedy that LEAR does but it's not about Kings and kingdoms, it's scaled down to mortal but identifiable generational conflicts, gender roles, the image of truth vs. the actual reality and how power/money breaks down the family structure. And in an age of Oprah like "forgive those who have harmed you" homilies, it was refreshing to hear Pfeiffer proudly rage that she would not "forgive the unforgivable". With Colin Firth, Keith Carradine, Michelle Williams, Elisabeth Moss, Pat Hingle, Kevin Anderson, John Carroll Lynch and Beth Grant. 

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