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Sweet Land (PG)





Release Date: October 18th, 2006 (Regal E-Walk 13, Clearview 62nd & Broadway, Cinema Village) by Forward Entertainment.
The Cast: Elizabeth Reaser, Tim Guinee, Alan Cumming, Lois Smith, Ned Beatty, John Heard, Alex Kingston, Patrick Heusinger.
Directed by Ali Selim.

BASIC PREMISE: In 1920, Inge (Reaser), a German mail-order bride, causes upset in a rural Norwegian-American community in Minnesota when she comes to marry Olaf (Guinee).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Sweet Land opens in 1968 as the elderly Inge (Smith) tells her grandson how she and his grandfather. The rest of the film flashes back to 1920. Elizabeth Reaser plays the young Inge Ottenberg, a German mail-order bride who speaks no English and arrives at a rural Minnesota community. The main conflict is that the community doesnít allow anyone to marry a German because Germans are considered to be spied. Olaf insists that Inge is no spy, but the local minister (Heard) refuses to given in. Inge soon moves into Olafís home and learns a little English. Given that you already know that Inge and Olaf will get married, it comes as not surprise that the townspeople gradually warm up to her. Unfortunately, until that inevitable marriage, Sweet Land moves at an excruciatingly slow pace and feels redundant. Some of the attempts at humor fall flat. Moreover, the plot flashes forward to 1968 too briefly in the contrived third act. Elizabeth Reaserís convincing performance along with Alan Cummingís humorous performance as Olafís friend help to enliven the film. However, the unimaginative screenplay by writer/director Ali Slim includes other characters, such as Olaf, that seem bland and underdeveloped. On a positive note, the exquisite cinematography celebrates the breathtaking beauty of the rural landscape in Minnesota.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: A contrived, dull and often drags.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 6

IN A NUTSHELL: Exquisite cinematography, picturesque scenery, and a decent performance by Elizabeth Reaser donít compensate for a contrived, dull plot that often drags.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD


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