Take Me Home, Country Roads
In Lake City, Sissy Spacek plays widow Mary Margaret “Maggie” Pope, reprising her A Home at the End of theWorld materfamilias "Alice" role. As Billy, the survivor of a young brother’s accidental death, Troy Garity resembles that same film’s "Bobby," who was portrayed by Colin Farrell.
Dealing like the earlier film with laying ghosts and guilt from the past, New York-born Sourthern-raised writers-directors Hunter Hill and Perry Moore’s entry derives from a memory in the former’s life and is strongly linked to a sense of place. Extending to its small-town title, their work is a visual celebration of locale, of the Virginia where -- in real life away from the set -- Spacek and Jack Fisk brought up their own children. Violence and drugs are implied in Detroit and briefly viewed in Memphis, though their evil follows here to the farms which have their own problems with subdivision development, divorce, alcohol and drunk drivers like Donnie.
The first-time filmmakers rely excessively on a repeated dreamlike flashback and on Oversoul foliage, fields and sunsets to “remind the audience that we are all part of a greater universe.” Even with run time a comparatively brief ninety-two minutes, there remain introductions left undeveloped, such as Billy’s and auto mechanic Roy Long’s (Keith Carradine) guitar talents or the sell-the-dang-land modernity of sister-in-law Nancy Kaye (Irene Ziegler).
Beaten and threatened with even worse over disappeared cocaine and heroin in the Tennessee city, Billy escapes from intermediary Red (Dave Matthews, of the famous Virginia-based band), cannot locate the Hope (Drea De Matteo) the dealer seeks, hustles their son Clayton (Colin Ford) and his important backpack into a ’68 Ford, and heads for refuge with mother Maggie whom he has not contacted for a year. Drowsy at the wheel, he is pulled over by local policewoman Jennifer (Rebecca Romijn), the little blonde girl of the flashbacks, an attendee of Christian AA meetings, and obviously still sweet on her returning childhood chum.
Divorced father of four grown children who with good reason have nothing to do with him, Roy is also undeclared but equally obvious in having an eye on Maggie. Shown at seconds’ fieldwork to establish her farmer creds, she opposes selling the large spotless house with its easy-to-figure-out closed door at the top of the staircase and mother hens the withdrawn prodigal son and the bored young boy.
High and hysterical Hope barges in for a moment, and a secret is revealed that, unrealistically, Billy only recently learned but that mother and viewer have suspected from the get-go. Having strong-armed a female friend Billy telephoned for news, Red shows up; worse, accompanied by two thugs, nastier kingpin boss Leo (Jeff Wincott) tracks them all to country earth.
The “greater universe” may be spiritually big, but a town -- where pickup-driving locals notice strangers and their cars -- is not. Heroes and villains cannot help but find one another in this limited space. An unsurprising last-split-second bullet saves the day and draws audience guffaws, so that folks can get on with being just family, with one, maybe two weddings in the wings. The physical farm is disposable, the sense of place and the ties of love are enduring.
(Released by Screen Media Films and rated "R" by MPAA.)