This film is made on a low budget, the director used real people vs. professional actors (except in one case) and it is filmed in Southeastern Ohio. I have put this movie here on Ohio Women’s History because I feel that it is rich in history, landscape and the Appalachian people who’s elders migrated here from what is more traditionally seen as the Appalachian region.
This film also focuses on a woman who is effected by the tale that is drawn out and displayed for us to ponder over. She represents our mother or grandmother, depending on which generation you are in. How she is treated gives us some historical context into the roles women have played for centuries. The film gives us that “Hillbilly Elegy” story but without the mental illness as an excuse for behaviors. Poverty is more the main character that is represented. Low income White families near the West Virginia border.
The people used in this film made the story come across in a very authentic way. There were times when the dialogue was a bit rough in coming out but this made the film real and deeper in understanding this culture. Having been around these people it is actually the way they do speak. A professional actor would not have been able to properly show this, even with a voice coach.
The storyline is stereotypical but not unusual or farfetched. As a psychotherapist, I was able to see immediately what was going to happen in the film much sooner than it became obvious. This is because the cameraman set up the plot through scenes rather than dialogue. It is uncanny how each of these people in the film were able to give us a sense of emotions. Jessica, the daughter, and the main female character, gives us a sense of the pain, humiliation but also the strength in dealing with what life has thrown at you. The strength of her character and the way the townspeople handle this tells us about how enmeshed these communities are and how they come together in their own ways. I was drawn to the story within minutes of watching this on Kanopy (through your local library).
The only downfall with the making of this film is the sound. As the director, Joseph L. Anderson, a professor at Ohio University, (Kanopy and some articles/reviews list the school as University of Ohio), did not have a huge budget, he probably didn’t have an ability to get the type of equipment that would have captured their voices easily. This film was actually saved so that it would be able to be shown on video as I saw it. I assume that they couldn’t do anything about the sound. Just be aware that you will need to put your volume up about as high as it can go. Some scenes are a little easier (when they are not outside), to hear. The majority of the film is outside though, so keep that volume up!
After viewing, I did look the film up online and it seems that the character Donna, went on to become a professional actress and we have seen her (under a different first name) on Little House on the Prairie and the Waltons as a character actor. The mother, in this film, went on to become a well known baker – she is a wee woman. I won’t say who the professional actor used in this film was or which character they played because I wouldn’t want you to be comparing acting styles when you watch it. It would be better to watch this, as I did, without knowing so you can focus on the film. Don’t even read about the storyline that is to come, just find out where you can watch it if you don’t have Kanopy. Let it all unfold naturally.
I would call this a historical masterpiece that you might want to put in your collection.