Review this movie
TinaA.May 30, 200610Julianne Moore is brilliant, and this movie is amazing.
MarkB.Nov 10, 200510If homemaker/perpetual contest winner Evelyn Ryan were around today, no doubt she'd be giving Ken Jennings a serious run for his money and Vanna White a serious case of sore wrists. However, since Evelyn lived and raised her 10 kids in the 1950s, her options were far more limited...which was unfortunate for her but very fortunate for us because we get to see the luminous Julianne Moore add Evelyn to the trademark gallery of Eisenhower-era desperate housewives that she opened up with Far From Heaven and The Hours. It's interesting and ironic that Evelyn is the exact opposite of the character Moore played in The Hours, incidentally; in the latter, her character ditched a perfectly nice husband who worshipped the ground she walked on (and permanently damaged the sweet, sensitive son she deserted); here, due to Evelyn's good Catholic upbringing and sense of parental responsibility, the idea of divorcing her loutish, obnoxious, resentful, always-in-the-way "better half" Kelly (Woody Harrelson) is never an option. (Apparently, due to said Catholicism, neither was birth control!) As a result, even though Evelyn was almost always able to support her family with the money, prizes and merchandise she endlessly picked up in newspaper, magazine and TV contests, she was more a survivor than a winner; Kelly perpetually drank up his paycheck while circumstances made it almost as impossible for Evelyn to leave town for a day or two off as Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey found it difficult to leave Bedford Falls in It's A Wonderful Life. But while Jane Anderson's irresistable, tremendously entertaining and moving account of Evelyn's life, times and troubles (based on a loving memoir by Evelyn's daughter Terry) rightfully depicts this almost unbelievably patient, level-headed woman as at least as much a heroine as Charlize Theron's mining company whistle-blower in North Country, one of the many beauties of this film is that neither Anderson nor Harrelson ever, ever demonize Kelly (even at his worst, which is often) or turn him into a villain. Essentially, he's the eleventh child in the household. With Oscar season officially underway, so are the big-screen biographies; with Edward R. Murrow's and Truman Capote's already here and Johnny Cash's just around the corner, this may be the most unassuming of the lot (as is its protagonist) but this absolutely one-of-a-kind film is my favorite. Anderson masterfully balances all kinds of conflicting moods and emotions; her delightful use of visual effects and offbeat narrative devices and her keen observation of 1950s lower-middle-class culture make this a joy to look at and listen to (and trust me, Gen Xers, at one time fish sticks and Jello WERE family dinnertime staples!), and her movie is alternately (and often simultaneously) wonderfully sweet, sad, satirical, sentimental...and truly inspirational in the very best sense of the word.… Expand