Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Places In The Heart (1984) - ★★★½

Robert Benton's Places In The Heart is a charming, honest and encouraging movie that displays the will of a human being at its very best. Sally Field is superb in the role of Edna Spalding, a widow that risks losing everything when her husband is tragically killed in the great depression. With cinematography similar to that of Gone With The Wind, this film not only embodies the beauty of the South, but displays its ugly side of racism and poverty.

Edna was left with over $3000 in debt, two young children, no job or experience in work and no place to turn to. Fields' performance was powerful in the way she displayed so much desperation and fear. When all seems hopeless, a starving and homeless negro man named Moze (Danny Glover), appears on her doorstep for work and a place to stay. With Moze's extensive knowledge of cotton farming and Edna's 30 acres of land, the two develop a scheme to farm cotton and bring in the first shipment so that she can earn the money to pay her debts and he can live a soundly. However, this is an extremely unlikely feat to achieve as the depression cut the price of cotton down to three cents a pound and many cotton farms had to forclose. Thus why the bank strongly insisted she take in Mr. Will (John Malkovich), a man blinded from the Great War.

Places in the Heart is one of the most uplifting films I've seen. I cannot stress the similarities Edna Spalding and Scarlett O'Hara (Gone With The Wind) have in terms of personal growth as human beings. Both had no knowledge or experience of how to farm or earn money, but when the time called for it they did everything in their willpower to keep their heads above water and survive. However Scarlett was selfish, whereas Edna is genuinely kind and selfless. That was the most enjoyable aspects of this film; seeing Edna evolve into a strong and independent woman that could do the impossible.

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