Bastard out of Carolina (1996)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Accomplished actress Anjelica Huston, daughter of John Huston, made her directorial debut with this absorbing, often wrenching story of child abuse in the 1950s American South. Based on a novel by Dorothy Allison, the film (narrated by Laura Dern) tells the tale of Bone (Jena Malone), a poor white girl so named because she was born right after her mother survived a terrifying car crash. While Bone is still a small child, her single mother, Anney (Jennifer Jason Leigh), meets and marries the sweet Lyle (Dermot Mulroney), and the two add another daughter to the family before Lyle dies in an auto accident. Anney is next courted by the less good-natured Glen (Ron Eldard), who takes out his rage on Bone both physically and sexually, as Bone becomes even more disillusioned at her mother's inability to get away from her monstrous husband. Set in South Carolina in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bastard Out Of Carolina touches on many aspects of life, family, and hardship amidst the poor white of the South. TNT owner Ted Turner refused to air the film, ostensibly because of its difficult subject matter, but the film goes out of its way to handle its material with as little exploitation as possible.
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Jena Malone
as Ruth Anne `Bone' Boatwright
Ron Eldard
as Daddy Glen Waddell
Dermot Mulroney
as Lyle Parsons
Diana Scarwid
as Raylene
Pat Hingle
as Mr. Waddell
Jeffrey Pillars
as Truck Driver
Rick Warner
as Young Clerk
Nelson George
as Justice of Peace
Gene Dann
as Worker
Jim Gloster
as Intern
Derin Altay
as Mrs. Parsons
Sue Ellen Yates
as Mr. Waddell's Wife
Sonny Shroyer
as Sheriff
Jerry Winsett
as Brother Calvin
J.C. Quinn
as Officer
Joe Maggard
as Man in Cafe
D.L. Anderson
as Woman in Cafe
Laura Dern
as Narrator
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Critic Reviews for Bastard out of Carolina

All Critics (9)


January 10, 2006

An abused young girl finds sanctuary in the care of the women of her extended family.

Full Review… | July 25, 2005
Spirituality and Practice

searing domestic drama that will leave you aching

July 29, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Quote not available.

August 17, 2005

Quote not available.

April 20, 2005
Atlantic City Weekly

Quote not available.

February 20, 2004
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Audience Reviews for Bastard out of Carolina


I was hoping for a more light-hearted film with themes of child abuse but instead, it just wallows in sentimentalism. The girl and her curious sister both undergo adversities. But I also didn't like the violence this film depicts. Also, I think that the actress that played Bones is a little too young to play a 12-year-old as she was about 10 at the time. But I do think she did good in the role. There's not much memorable characters here, the father keeps remanding his daughters to call him daddy. Though, I can relate to him and his desire to beat little girls. The mother is doting of her husband. Bone is a clichéd and not very compelling character, letting her father hit her instead of running away in the bathroom!!! Not even anybody else does much to help. There were some rushed scenes and the characters, I don't think were very convincing. It was just too unnecessarily violent and sick. I know that it was trying to send out a message that children are getting treated like this, but still, for the director to show these type of scenes and have the film be so sick that it makes me go "What the frack?" several times, I couldn't get into it.


This was a hard movie to watch. It sickened me. Jena Malone, was insanely good in this movie. It had to be hard for her to portray certain parts in this movie at such a young age. She was just amazing in this movie. It is a heart wrenching movie about a young girl who is sexually abused by her mothers boyfriend. Her mother is an awful piece of work. I wanted to go through the screen and physically harm her. I was just so disgusted with her and the way she treated her daughter. All of the actors all acted their parts well. Its just an awfully good movie that will have you going through a lot of emotions. I know I went through a lot watching it. It's not a film you can watch over and over again, but it is one that you would watch every once in a great while just on the story and the powerful acting. It is a movie that should be seen by all. A must see.


Super Reviewer


Haven't read the book but I feel that this is not a good adaptation & the film feels rushed, If you're planning to see this be prepared for its difficult subject matter & some really disturbing scenes

Arash Xak
Arash Xak

Super Reviewer

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