Country | Chicago Reader

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It's disturbing to see erstwhile avant-garde icons like Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange involved in so trite a project—neither would countenance anything so conventional in the theater, but in the movies they're happy to condescend. As Gil and Jewell Ivy, they spend the first half of the film embodying a lost pastoral ideal of American family life; it looks like the evil bureaucrats are going to take over their farm, so Sam obligingly gets drunk and surly (completely abandoning the character he's established), and allows Jessica to show off her strong pioneer-woman stuff. Director Richard Pearce (Heartland) uses the landscape only for occasional pictorial effects; there's no genuine attempt to evoke the land the characters keep claiming they'd die for. With (of course) Wilford Brimley.

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