October Country (2009)



Critic Consensus: It flirts with voyeurism, but this deeply personal look at a working-class family in upstate New York is piercingly honest and refreshingly unsentimental.

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A family struggles to stay together despite a long and troubling history of emotional trauma in this visually striking documentary. When asked about his family, Don Mosher tells an interviewer, "We wouldn't know normal if it fell on us." The line is more than just a self-depreciating joke as we spend a year with the Moshers, who live in a decaying rural community in New York State. Don is a Vietnam veteran who is still dealing with the emotional scars of war and is either withdrawn or sharply judgmental around his family. His wife, Dottie, tries to put a positive spin on the grim circumstances of her life, but sometimes her desire to nurture those around her causes more problems, including taking in a foster son who turns to a life of crime. Their daughter, Donna, was a reckless youth who became a teenage mother and found herself married to an abusive husband. Donna's daughter Daneal followed the same path as her mother and is now a teenage mother herself, raising a child on her own after the father abandoned her. Donna's younger daughter, Desi, is a clever and intelligent girl who seems unusually aware of the world around her for a child her age. And Don's estranged sister, Denise, has turned her back on the family and instead studies witchcraft with a group of Wiccans who regularly gather in a nearby graveyard. Donal Mosher is a photographer and filmmaker who is a member of the Mosher family, and with their cooperation, he and co-director Michael Palmieri followed them from one October to the next as they struggled with their demons while clinging to family bonds that give them strength. October Country was the grand prize winner at the 2009 Silverdocs Film Festival.
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for October Country

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (14)

Eventually you wonder whether the capacity to accept and forgive is a virtue or part of what's holding the Moshers down.

Full Review… | June 3, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The beauty of October Country, beside its artful images, is how it compresses the windblown fortunes of working-class America into the fallen leaves of one forlorn family.

June 3, 2010
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

You can probably extract a sociological or political message from the film, but I don't think that was the intention. This lack of an agenda seems to add to the movie's intensity.

Full Review… | May 7, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Too often, the camera is angling to be the star.

Full Review… | April 29, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

A powerful portrait of the American working poor and the dynamics that govern all families, regardless of economic class.

Full Review… | April 8, 2010
Washington Post
Top Critic

Unlike similar yet superior films like Capturing the Friedmans, October Country has no mysteries to probe or revelations to share.

Full Review… | March 18, 2010
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for October Country


A searing documentary about America's forgotten. Following the lives of one lower class family struggling to make it through their daily lives for one year, the doc presents a complicated portrait of modern life and explores the rarely seen underbelly (and reality) of the American dream. Few of its subjects are likable, but it's hard to ignore this kind of raw honesty.

Matthew Lucas
Matthew Lucas

Super Reviewer

The 1 person that stuck out most for me in October Country was Dottie.She truly has a heart of gold for letting Chris back after he steals from her & her husband again & again.She even takes him to buy clothes at Wal Mart because he doesnt have any after he steals from her again.What a woman! A GREAT documentary that would've been perfect if only there were updates on what happened to The Mosher Family after the documentary was over.Thats always disappointing.

Brody Manson
Brody Manson

Super Reviewer


Dysfunctional families spawn broken, self absorbed and self destructive losers that litter the American landscape today. This movie offers a disturbing view of the kind of people the family systems of the "working" poor produce. Mohawk Valley will fall on even harder times when the Remington Gun Company moves its operation to China.

john koroloff
john koroloff

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