The Cave of Forgotten Dreams
In 1994 Kansas, Stan Herd (John Hawkes), a farmer, lives in Kansas with his wife, Jan (Laura Kirk), and son, Evan (Keaton Hoy). He loves art and nature so passionately that he creates crop art which, upon completion, he insists on observing from an aerial view way up high on his friendís small airplane. When he learns that Donald Trump is looking for someone to turn a piece of land on the Upper West Side of Manhattan into a work of art, Stan takes that opportunity for no pay despite his financial struggles. A local bank agrees to give him a loan for the crop art project, and he takes a mortgage on his home sans his wifeís consent and awareness. His persistent devotion to the project puts not only his finances at stake, but also his marriage because he spends so little time with his wife who doesnít quite see eye to eye with him.
Writer/director Chris Ordal has chosen to tell the story of Stan Herd in a rather simplified, family-friendly way that would have been a bit bland were it not for John Hawkesí charismatic and organic performance. Hawkes is the heart and soul of Earthwork, and carried the film with ease and helps to keep you engaged even during the many scenes where Stan remains silent. It would have been more interesting, though, had Ordal explored the dynamics between Stan and his family even further or at least provided more leeway into the thoughts and feelings of Stan. At least he doesnít resort to voice-over narration which would have been lazy. Instead, thereís a lot of hidden emotion to be found beneath the surface. All you have to do is observe Stanís eyes to catch a glimpse of that. Ordal moves the film in a leisurely, relaxed pace, and includes beautiful cinematography, especially when it comes to the awe-inspiring aerial shots of Stanís crop art. At a running time of 1 hour and 33 minutes, Earthwork is an unchallenging, simplistic drama thatís grounded by John Hawkesí genuinely tender and charismatic performance.