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critics consensus

Finding the right balance between subtle and sentimental, Sweet Land moves beyond other similarly-themed dramas with evocative cinematography that plays an equal role to the talented cast. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When Inge Altenberg (Elizabeth Reaser), a young German woman, arrives in rural Minnesota, she meets Norwegian farmer Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee), a fellow immigrant. Olaf's parents in Norway have arranged for the two to marry, but problems arise when she doesn't have the proper papers. Despite being unwed, the couple lives and farms together, causing a rift with their community. In the face of considerable hardship, Inge and Olaf toil away and grow closer in the process.

Cast & Crew

Elizabeth Reaser
Inge Ottenberg
John Heard
Rev. Sorrensen
Paul Sand
Old Frandsen
Charlotta Mohlin
Elsa Jorgensdatter
James Cada
Minister Thorwald
Ali Selim
Director
Ali Selim
Producer
David Tumblety
Cinematographer
James Stanger
Film Editor
James Bakkom
Production Design
Emily Davis
Art Direction
Eden Miller
Costume Designer
Jill Broadfoot
Set Decoration
Thomas Lieberman
Original Music
Mark Orton
Original Music
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News & Interviews for Sweet Land

Critic Reviews for Sweet Land

All Critics (73) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (11)

  • The flashback structure adds nothing but length to an already awkward mix of humanist-socialist parable and gently halting love story that's been sat on a shelf since 2005. But even so, it's a surprisingly sweet little treat.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • At once epic and intimate, Sweet Land offers a stirring account of love and hardship which, aside from a muffed Capra moment towards the end, hardly puts a foot wrong.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Nostalgic, gentle, loving: the elegiac mood set against endless rural space inevitably suggests Malick's Days of Heaven. What next from this considerable talent?

    September 5, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Pleasant surprise of the week, a US indie so unashamedly romantic about pie, cornfields, family and baseball you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Presidential campaign video.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Here is a nicely photographed, but bland, insipid and weirdly passive-aggressive little film.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Minnesota between the wars is a bone yard for dreams, yet, like Babette's Feast, the film plucks a tiny miracle from stony ground.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The flashback structure adds nothing but length to an already awkward mix of humanist-socialist parable and gently halting love story that's been sat on a shelf since 2005. But even so, it's a surprisingly sweet little treat.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • At once epic and intimate, Sweet Land offers a stirring account of love and hardship which, aside from a muffed Capra moment towards the end, hardly puts a foot wrong.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Nostalgic, gentle, loving: the elegiac mood set against endless rural space inevitably suggests Malick's Days of Heaven. What next from this considerable talent?

    September 5, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Pleasant surprise of the week, a US indie so unashamedly romantic about pie, cornfields, family and baseball you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a Presidential campaign video.

    September 5, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Ali Selim's visual masterpiece recalls the stark artistry of Terrence Malick and Western lyricism of Larry McMurtry, as it turns every frame into a picture postcard of stunning beauty.

    May 25, 2013 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Exceptionally photographed and remarkably performed by actors Tim Guinee and Elizabeth Reaser, Sweet Land is modest, but demonstrative, eager to detail a love story that sustains for a lifetime.

    December 28, 2009 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sweet Land

  • May 31, 2013
    Worth seeking out, this bare tale of a German immigrant's attempt at assimulation in a wartime Minnesota suspicious of any foreigners is steady and sure, and beautiful throughout, not rushing to its long telegraphed conclusion.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 03, 2011
    It really does an excellent job of drawing you into the period of the 40's heartwarming story. A very slow paced movie that takes draws you into the life of a women who to escape Germany in the 40's, agrees to marry a family acquaintance in rural Minnesota. The whole movie rest on Elizabeth Reaser as the audience's point of access and pivotal role in the movie (and by the way she does not speak English and none of the farmers speak German including her husband-to-be). She is excellent at conveying her emotions and frustration as an intelligent woman who is trapped by her lack of effective communication and the prejudices of German Americans during WWII. Highly recommended for 3rd generations immigrants who have only heard their grandparents story.
    Bill C Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    What a nice movie! This is a perfect example of the kind of movie that I am always searching for. One of those little gems that I can curl up on the couch and let myself be carried away by. I just loved everything about it. I originally found it by searching for movies that Elizabeth Reaser was in. I really like the roles she chooses. I am so happy that I stumbled across this wonderful movie.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2008
    Okay overall, but the story line moved pretty slow and jumped from present time to past too much.
    Nikki M Super Reviewer

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