Cast as The Eternal Earth Mother in Hunter Hill and Perry Moore's Lake City, Sissy Spacek is a one woman universe -- tilling the soil, pushing wheelbarrows, filling the cupboards, sitting on the porch, and staring pensively at the sunset or gazing at the eternal landscape. She is not channeling her characters in Badlands or The River so much as going back to the source -- Linda Arvidson's stoic pioneer women from the old D.W. Griffith two-reelers (all that is missing is waiting for her effeminate husband to reel in the fish). She lives alone and leads a hard life keeping her farm together in rural Virginia and even though local gas station attendant and part-time guitar picker Roy (Keith Carradine) pines for her, Spacek's Maggie Pope keeps to herself and tend to her chores.
But Maggie has some deep, dark secrets that haunt her. Secrets that keep a certain room in her home locked up ("We don't go in that room... not anymore!") and an ongoing edict that renders the back seat of her pickup truck off limits. It is rural gothic run rampant.
But suddenly her wayward son, Billy (Troy Garity), shows up with an equally wayward and surly child, Clayton (Colin Ford). They are on the run from dumb drug dealer Red (rocker Dave Matthews), who is pushing Billy to find out what happened to his coke supply. "I don't know where Hope is," Billy replies before making a run for it, escaping from his torture by performing a stunt that would merit Billy a spot as a Ringling Brothers sideshow act.
Billy is referring to Hope (Drea de Matteo), his drug-addled wife, but he could just as well be referring to the film itself, where there is also no hope in sight.
The bulk of this pretentious mess of a film is a coming-home-to-the-country family drama, as Billy and Maggie try to reconnect and come to grips with the past before the final fade-out (Maggie tells Billy at one point, referring to her mysteriously dead other son, "I can live with it now, not have Andy. What I can't live with is not having you").
But clashing against this bucolic bushwa is a hot pursuit to the farm by the nefarious Red and his cutthroats out to reclaim the stolen junk from Billy. Finally, Billy and Maggie must make a stand, and God help us all.
Lake City is an uncomfortable fit of two mediocre films sewn into one leotard -- Beth Henley meets The Sopranos. The clichés rocket off each other like particles in a nuclear reactor: the end-of-day gazes in the rocking chair on the porch, the forbidden room, the nostalgia-tinted flashbacks as a character's gaze gets that foggy look, the heart-to-hearts. And then we have the kilos hidden in the knapsack, the narrow escape from the drug dealers, the well-dressed Mr. Big and his goons heading to the farm like a bullet train.
All of this malarkey culminates in a ridiculous re-imaging of North By Northwest and Witness, as Maggie and little boy Clayton are chased through the cornstalks by a collection of upscale thugs in a SUV, their guns a-blazin'. In the end, the mother and child reunion is capped with a waltz in the fields.
It is phony, manipulative films like this that make people line up for Paul Blart: Mall Cop. No Oscars for this one, Sissy.
Aim for the negative!
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Friday 25th April 2008
Distributed by: Screen Media Films
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Fresh: 3 Rotten: 24
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Hunter Hill, Perry Moore
Producer: Allison Sarofim, Donna L. Bascom, Mike S. Ryan
Screenwriter: Hunter Hill, Perry Moore
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