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Absorbing story, great characters, much family love!
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 01/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the autobiographical novel written by Kaylie Jones, daughter of James Jones who wrote "From Here to Eternity" and "The Thin Red Line", this is a unique family story. Kris Kristofferson is cast as the successful writer and Barbara Hershey as his wife. When the film opens they are living in Paris, and adopt a young French boy who is just a bit younger than their daughter Channe, then 7. Her parents drink a lot and live a rather flamboyant lifestyle but there is no doubt they love their children. As Channe matures, we share her ups and downs of growing up as an American in Paris. Leelee Sobieski, then only 14 years old, plays the role of Channe in her teenaged years. She develops a friendship with a boy her age named Francis Fortescue played by Anthony Roth Constanzo, whose colorful personality seem to indicate he will eventually turn out gay. When her father's heart trouble surfaces the family returns to the United States. It's culture shock for Channe and her brother, another interesting chapter in their lives.Produced by Ismail Merchant and directed by James Ivory, the entire production is outstanding. The settings come alive as we experience Paris in the 1960s and America in the early 1970s. And the camera doesn't miss a chance to zero in on the emotional ties between the people, including a housekeeper who turns down a marriage offer in order to stay with the family. Perhaps the strongest scenes, however, exist between the father and the daughter as they discuss love and life. Every actor does such a good job that I forgot they were acting and became totally absorbed in the video which avoids the trap of being too melodramatic or maudlin. It's just a wonderful absorbing story with interesting characters and lots of family love. Recommended."
A acting miracle by the young Leelee Sobieski!!!
ericanth0ny | LA HABRA, CA United States | 09/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film in a small art house and didn't know what to expect. The movie is long, but it's one of those films that you sit through and can't realize the time and don't care. The young Leelee Sobieski character (Chane) was a smartly written role that only she could pull off. The film starts out with american ex-patriots who spend there time in France while writer Kris Kristofferson and family spend time as discontented americans partying and finding culture in there life. The relationship of the entire family is a telling portrait of people looking for something to cling to and realizing that they have each other. They grow; and we grow with them through the looking glass of the dark theather that takes us away and we want to stay!!!"
Archmaker | California | 03/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ever like a movie, but have a hard time pinning down exactly why? That's how I feel about A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries. It isn't a great movie, but I ended up watching it every time it came on cable and I enjoy the hell out of it, but I'm not sure why.I think it has to do with the charm of Leelee Sobieski, who I had never seen before. She is a lovely young woman, and she does a very good job here. Also, I loved the work of James Jones, the writer (From Here to Eternity; The Thin Red Line etc), and I found this glimpse of his life and family interesting. The adopted French boy, his flamboyant wife, an expatriate's life in Paris of the 60's, their attitudes and dynamics. It isn't BIG drama, but it rang true and I bought into it. And, finally their adjustment to American life after returning from France. The entire cast was fine, and the diverse anecdotes (the treehouse, her gay friend, the adopted boy, the French maid etc.) interesting.Mostly, I think it was Leelee Sobieski and the interplay between her and Kris Kristofferson. Rarely do the movies show the great love that can exist by daughters for their fathers (To Kill a Mockingbird being the most notable). Well, this movie shows this most touchingly. Obviously, James Jones' daughter loved her father, and although the other relationships in the film are interesting and well done, this is the heart of the movie."
Strong characters, somewhat sleepy story
Alane M. Downes | Harpswell, ME United States | 02/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this movie for the second time (I think) last night with my husband and daughter. The R rating is somewhat extreme for this movie. Aside from Kris Kristofferson's characters rampant swearing, this movie could easily be rated PG-13 and then only for frank discussions about sex between the father and daughter. It could actually be considered a good "coming-of-age" movie for liberal-minded families, though even those who consider themselves liberal might disagree with the father's philosophy on life and his advice for his fifteen-year-old daughter. Of course, if you view the story and follow the plot, you might feel that he was compelled to be deliberate and forthright with her. Unlike many fathers, he takes the time to interact with his daughter and have heart-to-heart talks. This father also takes the time to cultivate his relationship with his wife. Bill and Marcella obviously have a very passionate relationship, but alcohol use is very prevalent as well. In any case, the movie is intriguing. I especially enjoyed the young seven-year-old Channe played by a beautiful young girl (I don't know her name). The scene in the treehouse with the young French actor is realistic enough to be disturbing and frightening. Channe's transition into adolescence (now portrayed by LeeLee Sobieski) is very believable. Her relationship with Francis, also an American, is so frustrating because both characters are so realistic. You feel the anguish that Channe experiences having a friend whom most young people would shun, and over time, Channe would choose to shun as well. Francis is one of those people whom you want to like because he's interesting to be around, but unfortunately, he's also so self-deprecating and self-absorbed and whiny that you can't help but dislike him at the same time. This relationship between Channe and the effeminate, opera-loving Francis might be enough to turn off many viewers.
Channe's adopted brother Billy remains an intriguing enigma throughout the movie and certainly his character could have been fleshed out more. What we gather is that he's sensitive and kind to Channe, but never seems to make friends. In France, we never see him even interact at school, or even grow into adolescence at home. If this is an autobiographical movie, then one could at times only wonder if Channe and her brother lead isolated lives within the family. There are moments of connectedness within her family that do dispel this, however. When Billy arrives with his family in the United States, he seems unhappy and out of place right from the start. There is the slightest hint that he might be quietly gay, and therefore somewhat repulsed by Francis' blatant personality. We experience a moment of unrequited connection between him and Channe's American boyfriend.
One could find so much to explore within this movie- the interracial relationship between Candida (their Spanish or Portuguese maid who, by the way, has a lovely, siren-like singing voice) and her black boyfriend, Candida's fear of commitment and total devotion to Channe, devotion that leaves her lacking the ability to create her own life. Barbra Hershey's portrayal of Marcella, a fun-loving wife and mother with no apparent career aspirations,who turns to alcohol to soften life in Paris as an American in the 60's where it's obvious she and her husband and friends often felt out of place. What's disquieting is that she experiences the same feeling of being an outcast initially when they move back to the United States.
Well worth viewing, though some like my husband might watch the movie and ultimately comment "What's the point?" (and rightfully so, since everyone is entitled to their own opinion). This is not entertainment for entertainment's sake. It is an exploration of relationships."
Alane M. Downes | 08/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this movie so much that I watched it 7 times in a row. Leelee Sobieski is one of the most talented young actresses I have ever seen. I can't wait to see more movies with her in them."