Director: Mary Sweeney

Country: USA

Year: 2009

Duration: 99 min

Languages: English / no subtitles

Category: , ,

The lives of six people intersect in a run-down motel in the peaceful village of Baraboo. Some have moved there by choice, others by force of circumstance. Jane (Brenda DeVita) has her hands full with the running of the motel, the gas station, and her teenage son, when the feisty 80-year-old Bernice (Ruth Schudson) arrives and puts the men in the motel to work renovating the grounds.

The lives of the neighbours seep through thin walls onto each other, and the script interweaves similarities and contrasts between the characters: a teenager needs the distortion of a metal guitar amidst picturesque postcard landscapes, while a war veteran has fled to the rural peace due to haunting war traumas. The women of different ages show that a mother’s concerns never end.

The humane vision of Mary Sweeney’s debut feature is reminiscent of John Sayles’ films depicting a world without haste. Sweeney’s stripped-down but risk-taking direction is equally masterful. Glowing in the glorious countryside scenery, the film captures the essence of the Americana of The Straight Story, written and produced by Sweeney. However, there is also a dark undercurrent rippling beneath the whole thing. The scars of the war across three generations punctuate the warmth of spirit and rural peace.

Otto Kylmälä