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A Map of the World

Not Rated, 125 minutes
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, David Strathairn, Louse Fletcher, Arliss Howard, Ron Lea and Chlöe Sevigny
Screenplay by Peter Hedges and Polly Platt
Based on the novel by Jane Hamilton
Directed by Scott Elliott

IN SHORT: Not oppressive, but emotionally heavy enough that even a happy ending doesn't leave you feeling good when you walk out of the theater.

It isn't a hard luck life for the Goodwin family. True, father Howard (David Strathairn) wanted jout of the city to try life as a cow farmer. His wife Alice (Sigourney Weaver) followed along, finding a gig as a school nurse, and their kidlets split fifty fifty on the suburban lifestyle. One is small and cute. The other, Emmy, is sullen and argumentative. But they're just background color, happily going off to play with the Collins girls that live next door. Alice and Theresa Collins (Julianne Moore) are pals, but that friendship is put to the test when Theresa's littlest lamb wanders off during a play date and drowns in the pond in back of the Goodwin spread.

As you can imagine, Alice is rather upset. So is everybody else. Alice's reaction to questions posed by police detectives (on an entirely different matter, one involving a child whose white trash mom isn't exactly attentive) throws this story into entirely different realm of possibility. It seems that that very young mother Carole Macessy (Chlöe Sevigny), has accused Alice of abusing her son. Wrap that up with the unfortunate events at the pond and, before you know it, rumors are flying hot and heavy and Alice is busted and jailed.

She spends a lot of time there. She reads. A lot. And while there are legal actions going on off screen, most of the time we get to see Sigourney Weaver... do stuff. She's the rich white girl amongst the poor white trash and ghetto mothers who don't like her. Some are scratching for physical confrontation. Some are sympathetic. Sigourney gets quiet and bitter, which is what is supposed to happen but it isn't riveting cinema.

Alice just gets the term nature is her How does jail affect people that Alice loves? We don't get to see a lot of bad. Howard can't get baby sitters. Alice won't let the children come to jail, when they do she looks like hell because she's been beaten on. There's a lawyer working the case, but you do not get a great sense of a lot of legal things happening while Alice sits in jail. Eventually, you do get a trial, you do get some sort of resolution, but most of what you get is these actors acting.

Once again, Cranky get the feeling that he was watching the detailed novel that had been badly adapted for the big screen. There are stories in that don't seem to go anywhere; Alice's husband in and the dead girls mother and you know what that could mean. Everything is very symbolize in. In but not aligned happens in. The kind of tension in that should build up towards a trial, towards he released from jail, just doesn't build.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to A Map of the World, he would have paid...



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