Thursday, July 8, 2010

SWEET land

[DVD Sweetland]

The film begins with the wake for Olaf, a Norwegian-American farmer on the prairie of Minnesota. His widow, Inge, discovers a photo of herself taken in 1920 when she was newly arrived to this country. Most of the rest of this movie is a flashback to their meeting and the events, family, and friends surrounding their courtship. Olaf is a Norwegian-American farmer on the prairie of Minnesota in 1920. He sends away for a mail-order bride and Inge arrives. They head directly to the Lutheran church to be married but it turns out Inge is of German descent, not Norwegian as Olaf expected, and her immigration papers are not in order. This is just after WWI so anti-German sentiment is still running high. The pastor refuses to marry them using her papers as the excuse. Since they aren’t married they cannot live together, so Olaf houses her with his best friend, Frandsen, and his wife Brownie, while they figure out what to do next. Inge’s English is fractured and she initially has a difficult time assimilating into the community who are still hostile to her heritage. Frandsen and Brownie are very welcoming and become good friends to her, but with their nine children the house is overflowing. Inge returns to Olaf’s house while he moves into the barn until they can finally marry. Many in the community are scandalized at this. Then, Frandsen faces foreclosure on his farm and Olaf must make a decision. This is a character-driven story, slow-moving but not boring, as the viewer watches relationships develop and stories unfold. One would think this quiet film to be another outstanding PBS production but it’s actually an independent film based on the short story “A Gravestone Made of Wheat” by Will Weaver. Many of the supporting cast members are recognizable faces, such as John Heard and Ned Beatty. Winner of, and nominated for, many awards including Best Narrative Feature from Hamptons International Film Festival (2005); Best Film from Vail Film Festival (2006), and Wisconsin Film Festival (2006); Best First Feature from Independent Spirit Awards (2007); and Best Actress-Feature Film from Newport Beach Film Festival (2006). This is not a film to half-watch while paying your bills or checking email, you would miss so much of the unspoken drama between the actors. The country scenes are breathtaking. Grab your popcorn and sit back to give your full attention to a moving story. -- recommended by Charlotte K. - Bennett Martin Public Library

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official SWEET Land web site ]

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