The Terrain of Tragedy.
Archmaker | California | 07/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There isn't a false note nor a dishonest scene in this drama of tragedy and its aftermath. A wonderful cast, led by Sigourney Weaver in a superb performance, play recognizably flawed and human characters coping with the tragic death of a child, and then, later, arrest and imprisonment for child abuse.Rarely has the stresses and strains of child-rearing and married life been presented so honestly. Sigourney Weaver's Alice Goodwin is a farm wife and mother and part-time school nurse. She is often exhausted and frustrated with her children, the eldest girl being a real pill at times, and bored with the routines of family life. Her husband is a decent, taciturn man, content to deal with the farming and leave the children's need for constant attention and domestic chores to his wife to handle.Weaver's best friend and neighbor is Theresa, wonderfully played by Julianne Moore, is the perfect wife and mother with a house neat-as-a-pin in contrast to the chaos of Weaver's. A tragic accident sets in motion a series of events that land Weaver in jail, and upsets all the relationships and the world of these very decent people.What is so refreshing in this film is that all the characters are not cliches. Weaver's Alice is a sharply intelligent, sometimes abrasive, prickly personality. She does not submit humbly to her imprisonment and in fact becomes even more difficult. David Strathairn as Howard her husband, is a man overwhelmed by the sudden responsiblity for his children and household. There is a nice turn by Arliss Howard as Weaver's attorney, self-amused and egotistic at the legal games he plays. Julianne Moore's Theresa is believable in her stricken grief.This is a sharply observed study of real people under stress and passing through the kind of events that change lives forever. It is worth your time alone to see Sigourney Weaver's masterful embodiment of this beautiful, difficult, ornery and truthful woman. But her marvelous performance is matched and ably supported by her co-stars.There may be missing that "big" cathartic moment to round out the picture, this film opting to reveal its truths more quietly and matter-of-factly, but it has something to say about how people cope with and are transformed by tragedy and tribulation, and that makes it reach farther than most of the fare we get. A solid 4-1/2 stars. Worthwhile."
Not as good as the book, but still worthwhile.
Archmaker | 06/24/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""A Map of the World" will probably be best remembered for its powerhouse performances from Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore. Both ladies are pitch-perfect as they weave this terrifying story of how life can change in an instant. The film will definitely leave the viewer shaken. I recommend viewing the film as a companion piece to the novel. The novel simply has more time for character development, and it allows the reader to really get inside the minds of the people in the story. On the whole, however, a picture most definitely worth your while."
Excellent - with one of the best scores in recent years
Archmaker | 11/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came to this DVD because I have cherished the soundtrack album by guitarist Pat Metheny since it first came out. It contains simply some of the most beautiful and touching music I have heard in the past few years. The soundtrack album is also a fanstastic companion to the book by Jane Hamilton, because on the album (which is expanded by almost a half an hour beyond the music in the film) Metheny really tells Hamilton's tale without words.When I finally did see the film (it never played in theatres here) on DVD - I was not surprised to find that it was as gripping as both the book and soundtrack album were - although each of them overlap, they all seem to have a slightly different take on the nature of Alice's situation. The score is somehow hopeful and as Metheny says in his liner notes somewhat "neutral" - Hamilton's book is fairly dry in tone, letting the reader fill in a lot of implied information on the characters on their own. Scott Elliot perhaps had the hardest job of all, because there was a lot of specific information that he needed to cover to tell the story and still make the movie a managable length - the challenge for all would be movie makers transitioning a piece to film.I feel he did an amazing job. I love the way he portrayed Alice as a kind of misfit in the somewhat hostile small town. (a rare occasion that Hollywood has not gussied up the Midwest to fit some Rockwell-like mythology - small towns ARE often mean and petty). And I do believe that Sigorney Weaver WAS robbed of the Oscar she deserved for this. This is her most complex role ever and she shines in it. Also, Julianne Moore made the most out of her scenes as did David Straitharn; although physically he was nothing at all like the way that Hamilton portrayed him in the book.Bottom line? Get it. And do yourself a favor and get the soundtrack album too - it will possibly become the soundtrack of YOUR life as it has for mine over the past year."
I Loved This Movie
Betsy Pascucci | Capon Bridge, WV United States | 10/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The book this movie was based on was just wonderul. Many people have found it depressing but I have found it more interesting than sad. Sigourney Weaver was just perfect as Alice. We could easily see her inner turmoil even though she actually didn't speak many words about how bad she felt. I thought it was handled with delicacy and taste. The supporting actors added greatly to this fine movie but it all belonged to Weaver and she handled it all perfectly."