Places in the Heart Reviews
It is full of American memories such as a grace at meals, wooden buildings, tornados, cotton fields, KKK, preaches and hymns.
According to Roger Ebert, "The places referred to in the title of Robert Benton's movie are, he has said, places that he holds sacred in his own heart: The small town in Texas where he grew up, various friends and relatives he remembers from those days, the little boy that he once was, and the things that happened or almost happened. "
The masterpiece makes me feel nostalgic as the US have changed drastically in 80 years while I learned good old America on TV's and movies as well. Over such background, Robert Benton put the story of the standing widow as well as episodes of a sister suffering from her husband's affair, an African American good at farming, an visually handicapped veteran which makes the masterpiece deep and wide.
The villains at the end of this movie are among the worst I've ever seen.
The "what do you look like?" scene was beautiful.
Unfortunately, it only suffers from a slight lack of destination.
Though I must say, that end scene totally bothered me. It turned the movie into something inauthentic, in a way. Even if it was intended to be symbolic, it steals the story of some efficacy. Would've been much better without the man back (if you've seen it, you know). Bad play.
Forced an excessively figurative conclusion that I believe robs the film of true spirituality as seen in their lives. Didn't need to push it quite so hard to completely take the film in a totally different direction.
Otherwise, a lovely film.
The young, cherub-cheeked widow played by Sally Field is can-do-ism personified, and is perhaps more racially tolerant than the norm for 1930s Texas, especially considering that her husband has just been killed by a drunk, black youth. But the movie sells us on the idea that she has bigger problems to worry about than racial politics or even personal loss. The Depression is palpable throughout the movie, and it reshapes her life almost overnight. A neighbor is living in a car, paint on a nearby abandoned house says "Gone to California," and now, with the death of the family breadwinner, Field's character also appears to be headed for bust. Worse, she may lose custody of her two children. With no time to mourn, she has to take in a surly boarder (John Malkovich, thoroughly believable as the blind WWI veteran) and hire a black man who previously stole from her (Danny Glover) in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. If it seems all too predictable that her headstrong determination and positive spirit will prevail, that her worldly-wise black field hand will prove his worth, and that the bottled-up boarder will grudgingly reveal his sensitive side, well... it wears it well.
Perhaps these characters should be thought of in the way that many of us like to think of our grandparents and great-grandparents: a little idealized in our minds, perhaps, but people who we believe were fundamentally good and who lived through difficult and transformative years in our history as soldiers, laborers, school children, and housewives. The final scene in the movie is a creative tracking shot that emphasizes the oneness of this diverse, often fragmented and antagonistic, yet familiar community that we have come to know. It is not just a Texas community, but an American one.
It is hard to say what a slow-boiling side plot about marital infidelity, featuring a young and inscrutable Ed Harris, adds to the movie. There may be some thematic connection to a frightening sequence of a literally home-wrecking tornado. Or maybe it is a way to provide additional color by making the supporting characters flawed and allowing the main ones to remain only nominally imperfect. In any case, this B-plot is not very creatively rendered, and it takes time away from the Malkovich and Glover characters whose private lives would surely be far more interesting but are too seldom seen. This shortcoming, though, does not prevent the main plot from being as affirming and moving as it strives to be.