5. Vanessa Redgrave, The Bostonians - 2 1/2 Stars
This is a Merchant/Ivory film. Even his best reviewed ones like The Remains of the Day and Howards End fell flat for me so certainly The Bostonians, not considered one of his better efforts, fell really really flat! Redgrave gives a decent performance, nothing remarkable at all, but acceptable.
4. Sally Field, Places in the Heart- 3 Stars
The Academy really really liked Sally Field this year. I didn't. Edna Spaulding (Field), who has led a relatively sheltered life until tragedy suddenly strikes and uproots her entire family life as she has known it. This is 1 of 3 movies about a woman trying to save her farm nominated in this year's category! I just thought Field was "acting" a lot. I don't think she became her character.
3. Sissy Spacek, The River - 3 stars
Tom and Mae Garvey (Mel Gibson, Sissy Spacek) are the owners of a small eastern Tennessee farm that has been in the Garvey family for generations. It is the early 1980s, when the staggering U.S. economy threatens the welfare of the American family farm. The Garveys' struggles are compounded by the fact that their property is in a flood plain, and by the enmity of Tom's rival Joe Wade (Scott Glenn), who is a wealthy and powerful foe. Spacek is a lot more subtle in this role than Field and I found her to be a lot more believable in the role of farmer's wife.
2. Jessica Lange, Country - 3 1/2 Stars
Of the 3 farm movies I liked Country the best. The film deals wit the trials and tribulations of a rural family as they struggle to hold onto their farm during the trying economic times experienced by family farms in 1980s. Gil Ivy (Sam Shepherd) and his wife Jewell (Lange) have worked Jewell's family farm for years, and her father Otis (Wilford Brimley)doesn't want to see his family farm lost to foreclosure. However, low crop prices, pending loans and a tornado all put pressure on the struggling family as they face hardship and the prospect of losing their home and livelihood. Lange is from Minnesota and I think she connected with the small life rural farmer role the best of the 3 ladies. It's a sensitive performance and one of her most underrated.
1. Judy Davis, A Passage to India - 3 1/2 Stars
Woah a movie not about a farm! The plot of A Passage to India revolves around a young English woman, Adela Quested played by Davis, who travels to India to meet up with her fiancé. On the trip she is accompanied by her fiancé's mother, Mrs. Moore. After arriving in India, Miss Quested claims to have been raped during an outing to some caverns (a local tourist attraction) by a young native Indian doctor, Dr. Aziz Ahmed. The film continues on with the outraged colonial reaction, the racial tensions between Europeans and Indians, and Ahmed's trial, where the justice system seems to revolve around the concept of "guilty until proved innocent". The main theme of the movie is in fact racism and its consequent injustices. Dr. Ahmed is educated and behaves in quite a European manner, yet the colonial response is outrage that an Indian should have molested a British girl, and a "rush to judgment" ensues with the Europeans assuming guilt even before his trial begins.
Davis portrayal of Adela is extremely realistic and you feel her emotions with such power. It is a strangely curious yet confusing portrayal. And with all the farm ladies cancelling each other out Davis is my winner.