© Arsenal/Central

U.S.A. 2005

Opening 1 Mar 2007

Directed by: Phil Morrison
Writing credits: Angus MacLachlan
Principal actors: Embeth Davidtz, David Kuhn, Alessandro Nivola, Alicia Van Couvering

Peg and Eugene live together with their younger son Johnny and his pregnant wife Ashley in a small town in North Carolina, USA. Johnny is already 20 and still trying to get high school diploma. Eugene makes wood carvings and Peg cooks, while pregnant Ashley (excellent Amy Adams) babbles on about babies. This southern idyll is interrupted by the older son George and his British wife Madeleine. She runs an art gallery in Chicago and business brings her south so that they also visit George’s parents. This is George’s first trip home in three years and the family’s first introduction to his European wife of six months. The harder Madeleine tries to fit in, the stronger the animosity is against her. Johnny’s old jealousies against his more successful older brother also surface. In the climax, all rush to the hospital with Ashley except Madeleine who is busy convincing the artist David Wark to sign on with her.

With this simple story, director Phil Morrison shows us typical small-town America at church or a baby shower and people sharing a home with visitors who are no longer “family.” It is cosmopolitan self-importance against narrow-minded, good country folk and the doomed relationship is nobody’s fault. I enjoyed this film so much that I checked out the DVD to re-watch it. It reminded me of visits to my hometown in Missouri, where everyone tries to be polite but really wishes I would just go away. I think many of us can relate to this sense of no longer belonging, no matter which life changes we have made. (Becky Tan)

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